British Mom Spreading Word About Condition Known As 'Tongue-Tie' That Kept Her Son From Breast-Feeding

| by Jared Keever

A British woman says a congenital condition that affected her newborn son, and interfered with his ability to breast-feed, put her in such a state of depression that she wants to spread the word about the condition in the hopes of sparing other mothers the trauma. 

Michelle Rawlings was 25 years old when her son was born three years ago, according to the Mirror. The two were sent home from the hospital the day after his arrival, but, she said, she quickly realized her son was having problems. 

He wouldn’t latch on to her breast to feed, and even when he did he wouldn’t feed long enough, she said. 

“He was also very unsettled, crying constantly and slept very little during the nights,” Rawlings stated, according to the Mirror.

She added that her son also lost 18 percent of his body weight and showed signs of dehydration. 

“I became engorged, while my son had extremely dry, peeling lips, a sunken soft spot and hardly any tears,” she recounted.

After about five days, a visiting midwife suggested that the newborn might have what is referred to as “tongue-tie,” so mother and son returned to the hospital to have the condition corrected. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, tongue-tie is also known as ankyloglossia, and is a condition in which the lingual frenulum — the fold of skin that tethers the tongue to the floor of the mouth — is shorter and thicker than normal. 

Those affected might have difficulty sticking out their tongue or eating, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

It is sometimes diagnosed early — as in Rawlings’ case — when a child has problems nursing. But problems may not manifest until later in life when, for instance, a pathologist might notice problems with a child’s speech.

Back at the hospital, Rawlings' son underwent a simple procedure known as a frenotomy to correct the condition, but it was too late to establish the nursing bond, she said. 

“Even after having his tongue-tie released he never did learn to latch on, I carried on expressing milk for his every feed for seven weeks,” she said, according to the Mirror.

“Through our traumatic experience, the bond between my son and I had been damaged. I found myself with postnatal depression,” she stated, adding that she is still on anti-depressants.

Rawlings is spreading the word about her son’s condition in the hopes that other mothers might catch the condition earlier in their affected children. 

She started the Facebook community, Tongue-Tie Awareness, and that has generated positive responses from other moms who have dealt with the condition.

“Awareness definitely needs to be raised, well done for getting your story out there,” wrote Facebook user, Caroline Alderson in a post that told of her experience with the condition.  

“My dad was tongue tied, I was tongue tied and 4 out of 5 of my children were too,” Alderson wrote, in part. “More mums need to know they're not alone and health professionals need to know what to look for!!”

Rawlings advises people dealing with tongue-tie trauma to “reach out - be brave, go to groups, meet people, make friends, get a supportive, stable community of great people and mummy friends around you.”

Sources: Mirror, Mayo Clinic, Facebook: Tongue-Tie Awareness

Photo Credit: Michelle Rawlings via the Mirror, Tongue-Tie Awareness/Facebook