When Oliver was born, I struggled a little getting him latched. I assumed it was the position I was lying in; the midwife assisted with his first feed and he fed like a champ. It didn’t take very long to notice he had a pronounced lip tie (see bottom of Oliver’s birth story) but I had plenty of techniques to manage that because of Isabel’s tie (if your baby has a lip tie, try the flipple).
Within a few days I was suffering from intense nipple pain. It was taking roughly 30 minutes to get him latched; I was fighting back-arching, screaming, chomping. By the end of the first week I had my first bout of mastitis (I went on to get it again, twice more).
I knew there was something wrong, something more than the lip tie. I sought advice from midwives, breastfeeding supporters and when that didn’t work, got in touch with the infant feeding coordinator at the hospital where I had Isabel. I was given some positioning tips but told that everything was fine. See for yourself, the comments left in Oliver’s red book (record of health in the first few years):
Further comments verbally from others… “The latch looks great, try a different position to make it more comfortable for you.” and “He’s putting on weight, it must be nothing”.
I persevered. My health visitor and a nurse assisting her added on yet more comments of “everything’s fine”, “he’s doing great”, “but he’s such a big chap” etc etc. They gave me the location of a local breastfeeding café and suggested I’d get on better with some like-minded friends. Nobody directly said “it’s in your head” but I got the feeling that’s what everyone was thinking.
I sent a follow-up e-mail to the IFC on the 18th August, explaining that problems were persisting:
[..] Though your positioning advice has got us thus far, I am still in varying degrees of pain / discomfort with each feed and Oliver’s latch is worsening.
He now clicks continuously through 90% of feeds (I can feel his tongue coming away from the breast and then sliding back under, it’s incredibly uncomfortable), milk dribbling out of the side of his mouth. He slips off the breast easily and will often drop the latch so that he is nipple sucking.
I strongly believe he has a tongue tie of some fashion as I can feel a significant bump under his tongue which seems to be bigger than before?
Oliver is now 11 weeks 3 days and I feel like I’m missing out on a decent breastfeeding experience. I really am stuck and don’t know how to proceed. I’m also worried that now my supply has started to settle
down Oliver’s weight gain may plateau.
Figured it was the weekend when I sent it, it might not get seen for a few days. I waited for a response. And waited. And waited. By the end of last week I was fed up. Fed up at the lack of reply, and frustrated at having spent most of the day feeding off one side because a red patch and soreness had reappeared. Worried that I was about to get my 4th bout of mastitis I shot off emails to every tongue-tie treating IBCLC I could find an email address for.
Ann Dobson replied within 12 hours. She asked for my address to confirm when she would be able to fit us in and then, completely out of the blue, turned up on our doorstep Sunday afternoon. This woman works in London and yet clearly feels so passionately about helping that she travels up and down the country to look at babies.
Within minutes she had diagnosed a 60% tongue tie (which she showed me; by applying a little pressure to the base of the tongue it stuck right out), restricted elevation and “lateralisation” of the tongue leading to a shallow nipple sucking latch with clamping during feeds. Also noted a high anterior palette (typical in tongue tie babies).
So much for “no tongue tie evident”.
Oliver was swaddled and the tie was cut in seconds. He cried a little then latched and fed better than at any point previous. After a little nap he spent nearly 3 hours sticking his tongue out, moving it side to side and laughing.
It shouldn’t have to be this hard to be taken seriously.