Feeding a baby born with tongue tie

Before I had even held or seen my little boy after he had been born by C-section, the nurse came over and told me that he had a tongue tie. My groggy and foggy memory recalls me asking if they could cut it there and then (as there were at least 10 medical professionals in the room and he was crying anyway!) yet I was told that they couldn’t without having a referral. We were told the tongue tie might not hinder him at all so to go about my chosen feeding method as I was planning. He was a huge baby weighing in at 10 pounds 6 and I suspected, like his brother, would have the appetite to match so I planned to breastfeed if I could until I weaned over to the bottle at three or four months in.

Little one was placed on me for the first feed shortly after I left theatre and he took to it and happily had a half hour feed. Like his brother, who had also gone on first time, I suspected it wouldn’t always be this easy. And I was right.

Over the next few days, breast feeding became trickier. My newborn was clearly taking in a lot of air as he fed and this led to him being really uncomfortable after a feed. To try and compensate, I was relatching him numerous times to try and work around the tongue tie and pockets of air but to little avail. The midwife watched me feed, confirmed it was probably because of the tongue tie and advised me to try with bottles with expressed milk whilst she processed the referral. Little one found a bottle easier to latch onto and took down less air resulting in a more comfortable session both before and after. I decided to express whilst waiting for the referral to come through.

I knew from the midwife that the current turnaround time was roughly two weeks from referral to consulting and the snip but this was a lifetime in newborn feeding time. I phoned a private hospital to find out if they could do the procedure. They could. The next day. For £400. By the same doctor we were waiting to hear from at the hospital. Exasperated was the word!

Expressing was becoming a pain in the arse. It was easier when I had just one child as I could express whilst he slept, fed or had downtime but my eldest was 16 months and whenever I started to express, he became hell bent on finding the one remotely dangerous thing in the room and falling on it / eating it / poking it in his eye etc.  Trying to express up to 30oz a day (my prediction of the huge appetite was right) took careful planning of meals and water intake. I expressed the most milk when I had just had a meal, my water intake had been good and was in a calm atmosphere – try as I might, it was hard to align these with two under 18 months.

I was frustrated. Really frustrated and had these thoughts swimming around:

1.His brother exclusively breast fed throughout the first two months of his life and I wanted the littlest man to get the same.

2.Interestingly, it was during these five weeks when the advice came in to stop pushing breast feeding as much to promote mental well-being more in new mums. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5832733/Midwives-ordered-not-judge-new-mothers-choose-bottle-feed.html

3.With more expressed feeding, I was getting decent chunks of sleep and hubby was doing a night time bottle feeding and this was lovely for them (and for me!)

A friend came to visit us one weekend and stay for a couple of days. It coincided with me feeling at my lowest about the feeding / expressing situation. I remember something very clearly -I was upstairs expressing alone in the bedroom getting a successful amount of milk out with no interruptions. Laughter, talking and shrieks of delight drifted up the stairs and I realised something…I was aiming to spend more quality alone time with my breast pump than my newborn and eldest.

Yes, breast milk was a good start in life but I was missing out and so were my children – we were missing out on each other. I should be cuddling my little one all I want and building my relationship with him, instead I was spending increasingly more one to one time with my breast pump. Mid flow, I switched off the pump, decanted the milk into a collection bag, went and popped it in the fridge before joining my husband and friend where I discovered them trying to teach my eldest to jump. I didn’t miss his first jump, but I could have very easily.

From this day, I decided to combination feed and I’ve never looked back. Parenthood is all about getting the balance.

Since then, my youngest had his tongue tie cut and we had to learn to feed and latch to bottles and to me all over again. The procedure was so quick. The doctor made a very small cut and how far little one lifted his tongue determined how far the tongue tie split. Only when it was done did I realise how odd it was that I hadn’t ever seen the tip of my son’s tongue! For the first week he took down milk quicker than his little system could deal with and we entered the ‘yak’ phase where more came out than went down and with many an outfit change – both him and me! But we made it. My little one is now feeding successfully, keeping it down, gaining weight and smiling. I’ve accepted my boys had different starts in life, I sometimes feel the need to defend and explain myself but one look at my little boy who is wonderful ball of squishy cuddles and smiles (and teething at three months!) and there is no regret. He will grow up surrounded by love and nurture no matter whether he has a nipple or a teat shoved in his mouth for the first few months.

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