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Midwife's Colleagues Treat Baby Grace's Tongue-Tie

Midwife Lydia Faulkner, 26, had a home birth for 7lb 10oz daughter Grace and when trying to breastfeed soon after, it was discovered that baby had a condition known as tongue-tie making it difficult for her to latch on and get her milk.

Ms Faulkner said: "The tongue-tie was spotted immediately after I gave birth.

"I was adamant I wanted to breastfeed but Grace was not latching on properly and it caused soreness and mastitis.

"It was getting so painful to breastfeed her that I'd have probably given up if the procedure hadn't been carried out."

Grace was treated by Lydian’s colleagues where she works at the Royal Oldham Hospital, and it has the only midwife-led clinic in North-West England that is able to treat tongue-tie.

The hospital has successfully treated 150 babies from the North-West area since it was established last year.  Mums and dads have been bringing their children from regions of Liverpool and Blackburn.

Val Finigan, who is the Pennine Acute Trust's infant feeding coordinator, who runs the clinic treating up to six babies a week at the frenulotomy clinic said "It is a simple procedure which causes very little, if any, blood loss or pain and involves the baby being away from its parents for no more than a few minutes.

"In fact, about half of the babies have slept through it, and about 98% of mums report a significant improvement in breastfeeding after the operation.

What is Tongue-Tie

Tongue-tie relates to a small strip of skin called the ‘lingual frenum' that stretches from the floor of the mouth to under the tongue and limits the forward and upward mobility of the tongue. Medical terms for this can be ‘Ankyloglossia’ or ‘short frenum’.

Doctors still debate the benefits of having the tongue-tie cut as many can stretch naturally, while at the same time, some babies can have it so severe that feeding may become a problem.

After the birth of your baby, the midwife may check the palate and tongue but this is not always apparent and will not be known until your baby has feeding difficulties or even speech problems at the age of two or three.

Some babies with tongue-tie will experience no problems at all, with either feeding or speech. Symptoms to look out for can be:

  1. Failure to latch on
  2. Slipping off the breast while feeding
  3. Sore nipples, mastitis and/or blocked ducts
  4. Continuous feeding
  5. Colic
  6. Slow weight gain

The above information is not a medical recommendation and takes note that a baby with tongue-tie may not have all of the above symptoms and some babies will have these symptoms, but not have a tongue-tie.

What Does the Surgery Involve?

The procedure of the operation can vary in different areas of the UK from a one day case to a short hospital stay after undergoing a general anesthetic.  A tiny snip divides the frenulum skin from the bottom of the mouth and is over and done in a matter of seconds. 

Reports from a study carried out by Mervyn Griffiths who is a Consultant Pediatric surgeon at Southampton General Hospital found that 18 per cent of 217 of babies under 3 months who were given the operation without general anesthetic slept through the whole procedure.  64 per cent of babies cried after the operation for just a few seconds and there was no bleeding or complications in any of the babies.

If you suspect your baby has a tongue-tie which is causing problems, mention it to your GP or midwife. They may refer you to a pediatrician at your local hospital.