Gentle Parenting

That’s not a tongue tie- it’s only a “fad”!

There’s nothing more infuriating than waking up to another breastfeeding article which has the potential to hurt a breastfeeding journey.

There is nothing more heartbreaking than realising how far removed we are from what’s biologically correct and how much breastfeeding wisdom has been lost in a culture where formula is pushed right, left and centre.

Instead of increasing support, it seems to be common practise to ridicule the reasons behind the need for support. Somehow, most things that complicate breastfeeding are dismissed as “fads” or trends.
This particular article making its way through breastfeeding support pages and social media, claims that tongue ties are only a “fad”….

This argument is supported with a comparison of statistics for tongue tie referrals between 2005 and 2017. Apparently in 2005 the referrals where considerably less.

The increase is indeed surprisingly high, however there is no mentioning of breastfeeding statistics or how the rates of mothers attempting to breastfeed alter from 2005-2017.

If I go for a wild night out with 5 friends drinking tequila like we were still at university, likely one or two of us would suffer the consequences of this excessive drinking.

If I bring 600 friends to drink tequila like it’s 1999, the chances are that a significantly higher number of ladies will be worse for wear the following day.

See where I’m going with this ridiculous analogy?
The referrals for babies with ties may have increased but unless we consider the rise in mothers attempting to breastfeed, as well as the increase in breastfeeding awareness and the baby friendly initiatives efforts to increase breastfeeding rates, we won’t be able to access accurate numbers.

We also need to take in to account how tongue ties would have been assessed in the past and if there would have been a kept, written record of tongue tie seperations.

I was amazed to find out that before we had lost so much of our breastfeeding knowledge midwifes used to rock a long, “pinky” nail.

When a baby was born the midwife would instantly check the rosy little bundle’s tongue and if a tie was found it would be snipped there and then using said finger nail- swiftly and efficiently done and with little pain for baby.

We don’t know if there were less babies with ties, or if we simply dealt with the ties without the faff of assessments and referrals and therefor it wasn’t the breastfeeding deterrent that it is today.

The loss of  knowledge being passed down, or the belonging to a “village” has certainly  had a negative impact on breastfeeding.

In the past, knowledge and wisdom would have been passed down from generation to generation. Support would have been readily available from the older generations. That is rarely the case these days.

In the 1960’s my sister in law was born. On the ward she was born only one mother breastfed.
So much knowledge was lost, as there was simply no one to pass it down too.

After a few generations of formula fed babies we barely know the basics of breastfeeding, we are having to relearn and reeducate each other.

The article state that social media has a part to blame in the “tie hysteria” but I disagree. Through these platforms we are able to rebuild our knowledge and regain that village that so many of us so desperately need. If it wasn’t for my online support groups, I can’t say I would have been able breastfeed my second for as long as I have.

My first, well she had a tie which went undiagnosed, although she was assessed many times. Unfortunately we never overcame the issues, and as such she was given my expressed milk out of a bottle.

Some mums are able to have a successful breastfeeding journey with a baby who has a tie, and that’s absolutely great! This however is not always the case. Some mums struggle with pain, milk blisters, reoccurring blocked ducts, Mastitis and many more issues which can challenge a breastfeeding relationship.

Maybe instead of calling ties a “fad” we should look at offering suitable support both in the way of assessment and in the form of peer support more freely. If it’s something as easily fixed as an attachment issue, 𝑻𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒌 there should be readily accessible support groups. If it indeed is a tie there needs to be appropriate support and resolution offered to both mother and child.

Creating doubt around the validity of toungue ties may well stop mothers from asking for help out of fear of being ridiculed. Would that not mean taking a huge leap backwards in breastfeeding support

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