"My son can now feed effectively"

About: Royal Hospital for Sick Children (Yorkhill) / General medicine

(as a parent/guardian),

I was having problems breast feeding my 3rd child. My nipples were mutilated, I had checked with breast feeding counsellors and his latch looked fine. My health visitor made an appointment with the infant feeding team who identified that he had a severe posterior tongue tie, they then made an appointment at the tongue tie clinic at Yorkhill.

There he was examined and it was decided that it was too posterior to be carried out in the clinic and he would require to be seen by a surgeon. The process up to this point was quick and I was so glad that we had a reason for these difficulties we were having as I was really struggling to feed through the pain.

It was two weeks later before the separation procedure was carried out at the tongue tie clinic, he was 6 weeks old at this point. The wait was due to a surgeon not being available. During that 2 week period I had to express and feed with a bottle which was even worse as he found it so difficult to grip the bottle and I found extremely upsetting. Had I been a first time mum with no breast feeding experience I am sure I would have given up.

From the first feed after the proceedure was carried out I could feel the difference, my son was able to feed effectively and the pain reduced significantly. It took a further 6 weeks for my nipple damage to heal and to be able to feed pain free. I am now enjoying feeding my son and am so glad I stuck with it. I know a number of mums who have have given up breast feeding due to tongue tie being identified too late.

We had great support from the health visitor, staff of infant feeding team and the tongue tie clinic. I felt really let down at the point we were referred to the surgeon, communication was very poor. It felt like maintaining my breastfeeding relationship with my child was unimportant and the wait felt like torture.

If tongue tie and in particular posterior tongue tie was something that was included in the newborn check prior to leaving hospital it would help mums who have children with this problem to breastfeed successfully and would have saved us 12 weeks of feeding difficulties and me a lot of pain.

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Responses

Response from Lorna Gray, Patient Experience, Public Involvement Project Manager, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Dear Breastfeedingmum,

First of all, congratulations on the birth of your baby boy! I'm sure this will be a very busy time for you, so thank you for getting in touch with such a detailed account of your experiences.

I am glad that your son has now had his tongue tie procedure and that you are now finding breastfeeding so much easier - I can only imagine how difficult those first four weeks must have been for you.

It is fantastic that you had that support from your Health Visitor and that the referral was made so efficiently, although I know that the two week wait for the procedure to be carried out must have been a stressful time and felt so much longer.

You mention that the communication and support at that point was really poor and make the really insightful point that this could have a big impact on the decision to stick with breastfeeding, particularly for first-time mums or those that aren't so confident with breastfeeding. I will feed this back to the service, as it would be good to know what support is made available in this interim period for mums and babies to make this time much easier than you experienced.

Experiences of identification of tongue ties have been shared by other mums through our feedback channels, some good, and some very similar to yours. All the stories we get are shared with the service and it helps us to really see what matters to new mums and their babies, what we could do better and what parts are going well.

It is only when people like yourself share their experience that we can truly understand the patient's point of view, so I would like to thank you for taking the time to get in touch and sharing your story. It is much appreciated.

Best Wishes to you and your baby boy,

Lorna

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