Although tongue ties are a common feature of human anatomy (50% have them) they rarely cause a problem (8% of those). However, because the women need extra support and come to the groups or find online forum help, it may seem like it's much more common because within the group of women having breastfeeding difficulties the percentage is much, much higher.
Compared to other counties, we have a great service. The waiting times are usually around 2 weeks (longer if one of the two practitioners are on holiday) and the cut off is 16 weeks. In Gloucestershire for example, the waiting time is 6 weeks and the cut off is 8 weeks. We also have help to manage during the waiting period, such as support groups and dedicated breastfeeding support workers who can come to your house, if their workload permits.
Most mothers think that it's only poor weight gain and sore cracked nipples which indicates a tongue tie, but there are far more symptoms than that. Equally poor weight gain and sore nipples are more often caused by a poor latch and can be fixed with help around positioning and attachment. Even some babies with a tongue tie can learn how to feed efficiently and pain free with help from an experienced breastfeeding support person. It's important that the person has some experience with tongue ties, so the mother isn't left feeling that there is nothing to be done.
I have collected some stories from local mothers who's baby had a tongue tie that I wanted to share with you.
"My firstborn (now 3) had a significant one. It wasn't spotted in hospital because they didn't really look for it and i knew nothing about it. Despite everyone telling me she had a perfect latch, and her weight gain being fine (she only lost 6% and gained rapidly from there), i was in so much pain. After one week i was bleeding on one side and bruised on both despite a visually acceptable latch. A community midwife finally spotted the tie but the NHS was a several week wait. I was about to give up so we booked to have it snipped privately and saw the most incredibly helpful expert who I saw again without hesitation for my second born. She was amazing and worth every penny. The procedure was quick and easy, Alice didn't make a sound and fed straight after. The pain and feeding gradually improved and we are still feeding now! My second born (now 8 weeks) had a shallow latch but i had no pain, they spotted a mild tie in the hospital and i immediately took him to have it snipped privately again as i wanted Suzanne's advice and baby was very gassy and upset taking in lots of air when feeding. He still takes in some air but it did improve after the procedure so no regrets. I have one myself so it's no surprise both of my children inherited it! Hope that helps I'd be happy to answer any questions anyone might have xx"
"My daughter (6 weeks old) had hers done today. It was something I noticed myself, she was feeding really quite well in the first two weeks, then suddenly she wasn't maintaining the latch, she was starting off ok then pulling back when she got tired by the 4th week of this she was only feeding for 2-3 mins at a time. Still gaining weight and thriving. When she was 4 weeks old I went to the saffron centre breastfeeding group and Lynn went through the signs/symptoms of tongue tie after I had mentioned that I thought her tongue was short. I then referred to the tongue tie service, had a phone call where we discussed the problems. When I got to the clinic today for assessment I was put at ease straight away, the support worker who greeted us was really positive and reassuring, the specialist nurse was also. They explained everything really clearly and when they had established that Millie did have a significant tongue tie I was able to make an informed choice about having it resolved. The nurse carried out her assessment explaining everything and then made sure I was busy signing the consent form while she carried out the procedure which was over in less than a minute. She immediately brought Millie over to be fed and helped me ensure she was feeding properly. When the nurse was satisfied she was settled and well fed and no bleeding we were given care instructions and then we're able to leave. It was a very efficient service from start to finish and a positive experience for us, no unnecessary stress."
"It was noticed William had a tongue tie about a week or so after he was born. I really wanted to breastfeed but he couldn't latch on. He also struggled with bottle feeding but coped a little better. I would still express for him. I was given a tongue tie refferal link by the ladies at the breast support group I attend, so I could get him looked at. It was amazing because once I filled in the application form, I got a phone call within the week. It was a really nice lady. We discussed William's symptoms and she agreed it did sound like he had a tongue tie, so she booked us an appointment. By the time we had the appointment William was 8wks old. They were very good with him there. She had a good look at it and said she would snip it there and then, she also went through with me what would happen and how she would do it. I'm not going to lie...it was horrible to watch, one nurse holding his head still as the other used the scissors and snipped it!! He screamed and cried and there was blood. But it was over so quickly and she handed him straight to me. I cuddled him and then she helped me try and get him latched on to my breast. We did manage to get him latched on for a little while, but he still struggled a little. Then he fell asleep. She then advised me to buy nipple shields to help him, as it would be similar to taking a bottle. She then said to still keep up with the breastfeeding support groups, which I had been attending since I was pregnant. William is now 17wks old and we've had no problems since. He likes poking out his tongue sometimes and he will now latch on (but still only using the nipple shields). I was really impressed with how his tongue tie was treated and how quickly we were seen."
I have taken a tongue tie course with an IBCLC which allows me to identify a possible tongue tie. Only a tongue tie practitioner can diagnose one. If you want to see me about it, please come to one of the NHS support groups in Worcester. To make sure I definitely have time, please message me via this page before showing up.