One thing that I come up against all too often is tongue tie. Perhaps it is because I am contacted primarily by women having “problems” feeding – nipple damage for them, endless feeding by the baby, poor weight gain, fussiness at the breast – the list goes on. What I am shocked by is the lack of support and care for women who suspect that their babies have this problem. Indeed, I heard recently that a Paediatrician at a well-known London hospital declared that he didn’t believe tongue-tie existed, and that tongue-tie division is simply a ruse for Breastfeeding counsellors to make money. I have no doubt (and have seen) that there are babies with partial tongue tie who can feed effectively and/or who do not cause pain or damage to Mum. But, I have witnessed first hand what a massive difference a frenulotomy (tongue tie division) can make to Mum and baby with significant feeding problems. His ill-advised comment made me wonder how isolated and confused parents he had spoken to had felt. Feeding, particularly at the breast, but also bottle, requires the tongue to work a great deal – to be able to stretch, reach and stimulate – how can it do that effectively if it is anchored to the floor of the mouth by a bit of extraneous tissue?
There is a group who are surveying parents to find out their experiences of tongue-tie. If you would like to take part then visit http://www.tonguetiehelp.org.uk/surveys.html. My feeling is that the more information we can gather about parents’ experiences the more we can help future mothers and babies.