I don’t think I’d ever heard of a tongue tie until we were told that Darcie had one. It’s not something I’d thought to research which is why I thought I would share our experience to help any other parents out there who are expecting a baby soon or who have been told their baby has one and are making the decision about whether or not to have it cut.
A tongue tie is basically when the bit of skin connecting the tongue to the bottom of the mouth is too short, meaning that they cannot open their mouth fully. There is a scale of severity of tongue tie and for a lot of babies it is so minor that it is unlikely to cause them any problems later on in life. I can’t remember the exact number that Darcie’s was but she was somewhere around the middle of the scale. If you are planning on breastfeeding your baby, the tongue tie is more likely to present a problem as you are going to need them to be able to open their mouth as wide as possible to avoid added pain during feeding in those early days and so they can get sufficient milk.
Although Darcie took to feeding well, after a day or so it was clear that I was in more pain from it than is considered ‘normal’ and that she was having to work extra hard to feed. After having many midwives and a lactation consultant check her latch and watch us feed, her tongue tie was reassessed and they suggested that if we had it cut then feeding would become much easier for us both. When you have given birth less than 48 hours ago, you haven’t slept, your nipples are bleeding and your emotions are all over the place, having to decide whether to get your newborns tongue tie cut is not an easy decision.
After much deliberation and stress, we decided to go ahead with it and thanks to the amazing staff and facilities at The Birth Centre we were able to have it done quickly when she was only two days old. They gave us the option to come in with her or to wait outside, and as much as I didn’t want to watch I knew I would feel worse for not going in. So we stood in there trying not to cry as they made the cut. There are very few nerve endings in that area and so they can perform the cut without any anaesthetic. I believe for older babies and children they do use anaesthetic just to prevent them from biting down during the procedure. One midwife held Darcie still while the other lady opened her mouth and snipped the bit of skin. She cried instantly but they tell you to breastfeed straight away and that instantly calmed her down. Within five minutes she had forgotten all about it.
It felt horrible at the time, I know we both felt so guilty at making that decision but I am so glad we did. That couple of minutes of discomfort made such a difference for both Darcie and I. We hadn’t realised that she wasn’t able to open her mouth fully as it was so tiny anyway but straight away she was able to open it almost twice as wide and breastfeeding was so much easier instantly. I’m glad we had it done while she was so young; as cruel as it felt at the time I think it’s better to get it done sooner rather than later. If you don’t have it cut they have a possibility of difficulties with speech later on which I’m glad we shouldn’t now have to deal with.
For about a week afterwards she had a kind of scab over the area that had been cut but it really didn’t seem to bother her. We had to keep an eye on it to just check no infection developed but with all the antibodies and healing properties in breastmilk it was absolutely fine and healed over very quickly.
It’s always going to be a difficult decision to make but I know that we made the right one. I don’t know if we would have been able to carry on breastfeeding if we hadn’t had it done and I’m happy it was dealt with so early on on her life that she will have no recollection of it.