Guest post – Tongue tie: Kate Carter, Life & Style editor, Guardian.co.uk
Guest post from Kate Carter, Life & Style editor of guardian.co.uk – Kate talks about ‘tongue tie’
Feeding a baby can be such an emotive issue, it’s hard to know how to broach the subject with friends who’ve just given birth.
“How’s it going, are you getting any sleep, and does it feel like a cheese grater has been applied to one of the most sensitive areas of your body?” is probably not ever going to be a natural conversation starter. But it’s a shame we don’t have more open conversations about the early days of feeding, because I think one of the most common reasons for difficulty with breastfeeding, and one of the most common reasons for women to give up, crying in agony, is often undiagnosed.
Tongue tie is not something you hear a lot about. Understandably many pre-birth classes focus on the birth itself, not the difficulties that can come after – and who would want to put women off even trying to breastfeed by a litany of possible ailments? But the sad thing about tongue tie is that it is usually a breeze to treat.
So what is it? The tie in question is the frenulum, the stringy looking membrane that attaches the bottom of your tongue (in the middle) to the bottom of the mouth. In many newborns, this tie can be too tight, causing difficulty with tongue extension and therefore a bad ‘latch’ or feeding position.
Cue agony to mum and sometimes frustration to baby. Some babies have a very obvious one – my second daughter had what the lactation consultant described as a “90% tie” – others may have a smaller one but struggle with it more. There are many helpful websites with more info – such as the fabulous Kellymom – or of course the good old NHS but I for one would like to see all hospital midwives trained in identifying this easily treated problem in hospital at birth.
It takes a second to snip (my daughter barely even cried) yet can make such a huge difference – but if left undiagnosed can lead to awful problems. The NHS site says some 3-10% of babies are born with it, yet I suspect a proper survey would reveal it’s an awful lot more.
Thank you Kate, for sharing your experience with tongue-tie, and the links Kate mentioned are here: