Saturday 15 September 2012

Tongue Tie Divided

We did it. A week ago we had it snipped. Literally. Ann has a pair of curved scissors with blunt ends (apparently designed for eyeball surgery- can you imagine something as huge as scissors mixing with eyeballs? I can’t) and very quickly snipped it and he fed straight away afterwards. She and Charlie were lovely and I didn’t really cry, honest!

Rainbow was a little more easily upset than normal for the rest of the day, but was back to his usual sunny self the next day. It was funny Ann suggesting Calpol, when it was Charlie who started us off when Flower was tiny on how awful Calpol is (the additives in it are banned in most EU countries) but it can be so hard to get infant paracetamol on prescription without the additives. (There’s Medinol to ask for at the pharmacy, if you need something).

I was having dilemmas after making my mind up the week before, as the week leading up to the snip was much better feeding-wise. Afterwards Charlie said that with tongue ties it can often improve for a bit, get worse for a bit, then improve again- she’s had people make and rearrange appointments a few times, but they usually decide to have it divided in the end.

Its hard to make a decision which can have such long range consequences. I hope that by snipping now its been a much more minor procedure than trying to persuade a toddler or 5 yr old to have an injection in their mouth. I hope that by having it snipped he’ll be less likely to have speech issues related to it, and be able to lick an icecream or whatever else he feels like, easily.

The potential problems with having it snipped- well, pain for him, obviously, risk of infection (tiny, I asked), risk of it reattaching when healing, and it making feeding even worse- well that was the sticking point. I mean, feeding hasn’t been dire, no blood, no shredded nipples for me, no weight loss, colic or reflux for him- all very usual side effects of a tongue tie. I decided the feeding had been bad enough for me know I wouldn’t feed long term like that, which I suppose had my expectation only been 6 months, it might have been something to think about (though not really, it did really hurt) but I feed my kids for years, not weeks.

My other consideration was how would I feel not doing it. Doing nothing. Not trying to fix a breastfeeding problem. Looking at it that way, I had to try. I had to try to achieve the ease of feeding I’ve had with my other children. It wouldn’t be fair to Rainbow not to try. To suffer breastfeeding him when it was such a breeze with the others- to soldier on, probably complaining when it hurt, yet not doing the only solution offered? No, that wouldn’t be right for us. No one could tell me how bad the bad days would be in the future, or how much easier it’d be without intervening.

It hasn’t been a magic wand for breastfeeding, but then as I’ve said, it wasn’t awful feeding him last week either.

What I have noticed is how WIDE he can open his mouth- noticeable the instant it was cut and he shouted about it. He makes different noises as well. Unfortunately he hasn’t (yet) figured out that by opening his mouth wider the rest of the time, it’d be quite nice if he fed with a bigger mouthful too. It is a little better, he must have more breast tissue in his mouth as he slips off much less, gets less air in when feeding (that clicking sound happens less) but it itsn’t as resilient a latch as I remember with the others. I can’t move while feeding- not that I really want to do much, but leaning to pick up a drink or reading material shouldn’t mean a two-handed job to re-attach every time, IMO. I used to be able to answer the door feeding if I had to! However that may well be how breastfeeding works out with Rainbow, and thank goodness I haven’t got clear memories of that pain anymore- I really have to think to remember how bad it was, so I must have got some sleep since then.
We were also strongly recommended to take him to an osteopath. Apparently not being able to move tongue means not being able to move jaw fully leads to tensions, and very often babe has colic, reflux and a stiff back that osteopathy can help. Lucky for Rainbow he has apparently a lovely shaped head, and not much tension so a couple of visits should sort him out, and fit in a look at my back too. Phew (I knew he wasn't suffering!).

He’s also learning to move his tongue more. When he sucks on a finger I can feel how his tongue movement is one that tries to push my finger out of his mouth (despite it being in the place where he should be automatically sucking in) and I imagine that’s why his latch keeps being so shallow- how else could it be if he keeps thrusting boob out of his mouth? So I need to figure out how to encourage him to use his tongue to pull boob in. We’re doing tongue exercises, and sweeping the snip site to hopefully stop it re-attaching ( a common problem with tongue ties, unfortunately).

I’ve been pointed to a youtube vid to help with latching, which I guess just takes practice.

So, we’ve done it. We’re working on it. Its going ok. Thanks for asking!


  1. Really useful information. I hope people searching google for info on tongue tie find this post easily. As it is in the title of the post they will.

  2. I was just wondering how you are getting on now? We have had our little boy snipped two days ago, and no improvement yet. I too was unsure what to do as he was able to feed, but it was very painful. He wouldn't open his mouth for us and still isn't. I feel a bit like he has lost some of his power in his tongue since having it done. We will try sucking excersices oesteopathy also.

  3. Smilerterry, I'll get on with an update but really sorry you and your LO haven't had a noticable improvement :( As someone who knows very little about TTs, do you think they fully divided it? I'm rubbish at looking in baby's mouth (I think we might have seen the white diamond once, thats it) as I can't hold the tongue up out of the way for a good look, but wonder if you can see. HUgs- it must be awful deciding to have it done and have no change.