Breastfeeding a baby with Tongue Tie – Jo’s story

When my daughter was born I was elated. We had been through hell and back to have her, with multiple cycles of IVF and a miscarriage along the way. Finally I was holding my own baby for the first time! I held her to my breast expecting her to nuzzle in and start feeding but…nothing. I must have looked disappointed as one of the midwives said ‘Don’t worry, they don’t always feed straight away’. I was in the hospital for three days and every feed I had to call a nurse to help me. I could just never seem to get my baby into the right position. I would get her on and she would start to suck but within seconds would pop off, someone had to physically hold the back of her head so I could feed her. ‘Don’t worry’ everyone said, ‘you’ll get it’. By the time I left hospital my nipples were blistered and bleeding, every feed was agony and I was completely frustrated as to why I couldn’t get it right. My poor baby was screaming with hunger in between feeds and I was at my wits’ end.

Once we were home things went from bad to worse, I could not get it right at all without the nurses’ help. I was exhausted, in pain and terrified my baby would starve. Luckily the midwife who visited me at home referred me to the lactation consultant at the hospital. We went in when our baby was 6 days old. I sat down in the office and burst into tears! The consultant was wonderful and it was such a relief when she told me that it wasn’t my fault, my baby physically couldn’t feed because she had tongue tie. She gave us a list of local Doctors who performed corrections, we chose the one who could get us in the next day and went away full of hope.

I guess we chose wrong. The Doctor made me feel awful, she said that it should be completely possible to breastfeed our daughter regardless. She said she would do the correction if we wanted but it was totally unnecessary. We decided to go ahead and it was done in an instant with barely any tears (from us or the baby!). Once we got home I tried to feed but again it was hopeless. To say I was devastated is an understatement. Not only could I not do the most natural of acts but I unnecessarily put my baby through a painful procedure!

Meanwhile I hired a breast pump from the local pharmacy and was feeding baby through a tube, we couldn’t even get a bottle teat in her mouth. It would take 45 minutes to drip 30ml into her mouth, then I would change her and put her back to bed, I would then hook myself up to the pump for another 20 minutes or so to get milk for the next feed, then an hour later the baby would wake up again for her next feed. I was trying to fit in showering, eating, entertaining visitors and trying to get some sleep in these short blocks, I was completely exhausted and ready to give up. One time I was unable to express anything and the baby was ready for a feed. What could we do? My hubby dashed to the chemist and bought some formula. We mixed it up, praying everything was sterile enough. We got a little of it into the baby but she promptly projectile vomited it everywhere and started screaming again to boot! I had no choice but to keep trying, I drank loads of water and tried to rest as much as I could and eventually my supply got better.

We went back to the lactation consultant who referred us to a specialist lactation clinic where I saw another wonderful woman. She got me to tube feed my baby so she could see what was going on. It turned out the tongue tie was still there, whether the Doctor didn’t clip far enough or it was a more complicated tie we don’t know, but our baby was not able to suck at all. She was relying on gravity to drip the expressed milk down her throat. The consultant referred us to a Doctor she personally recommended and I rang straight away for an appointment.

At last the day came to see the second Doctor, I was so nervous of being judged again but he was absolutely lovely. Again it took only a second and the practice nurse put my baby straight to my breast afterwards. Finally she was feeding! I couldn’t believe it was happening.

After that we never looked back, we returned the industrial pump to the pharmacy and I only breastfed from then on. The first couple of weeks were tricky as I guess they always are, it was awkward at first and my nipples got a bit sore, although nothing like before! But after almost a month I was finally able to feed my child – what a sense of accomplishment!

My gorgeous daughter is now 16 months old and still loves to be breastfed, even though it’s only at night now. I am so grateful for the professionals who helped us along the way and I am proud of myself for sticking with it even though it was extremely difficult at times.

Jo Evans is a mother from Western Australia.

For further readingabout Tongue Tie, check these links

The Hidden Cause of Feeding Problems   By Milk Matters (a group of UK  IBCLC Lactation Consultants –

Is my Baby Tongue -tied – (includes clear photos) By Catherine Watson Jenna, Lactation (US Lactation Consultant IBCLC, author of ‘Supporting Sucking Skills in Breastfeeding Infants’)

Top Ten Tongue Tie Myths by the Analytical Armadillo (a UK Lactation consultant IBCLC)

Tongue Tie , more than ‘just’ a breastfeeding problem by Renee Beebe, (US Lactation Consultant IBCLC)


  1. Kristin says

    You poor mummy! I remember exactly the feeling as my little girl had 100% tongue and top lip tie too. Lucky for me, the lovely midwives at the birth centre (who visited at home everyday for two weeks) understood how critical tongue tie was for breastfeeding, let alone future issues with teeth and talking etc.

    We did a day 8 dash to Sydney to see a doctor who was married to a lactation specialist. 90 gentle mins with her, 5 mins for the most minor operation, and we were good to go. But the agony of that first proper latch onto broken nipples, my goodness! Still breastfeeding at 10 months and she is thriving.

    I since found out that there are quite a few doctors in Canberra who snip tongue ties, but of course there isn’t a central place where you can find this out.

    Perhaps a peer reviewed study would give this minor operation some more legitimacy in the eyes of doctors!

  2. Mandi says

    I understand ur anguish and pain as a first time mother the hospital picked up on the tounge tie when my daughter was born but nobody informed me the midwives at the hospital used to just yell at me and tell me I was stupid n didn’t listen it wasn’t until we got home 4 days later and after my nipples bleeding and being blistered that the home midwife picked up the tounge tie and fair enough it was documented in her book she have me a list of numbers to call to get it looked at we took her to the pedetrician the next day he did the procedure and fair enough I could breast feed straight away

  3. Crystal says

    I can sympathise with the pain that breastfeeding a baby with a tongue tie can cause. My little boy had a posterior tongue tie and a class 4 lip tie. We didn’t discover it until he was almost 3 months old. I had been to see the lactation nurse a few times due to the pain I was having while feeding, she kept telling me to hold him closer. Then one night I was reading an article about ties and my little boy had all the symptoms described. Another trip to the lactation nurse and we had a diagnosis. We then booked in to have both ties fixed using a laser procedure at the dentist. Given that we live in the NT, we had to fly interstate (we chose a dentist in Melbourne) to get it done (nobody in town does the procedure). Best thing we ever did. The first 24 hours were really tough, but then over the next 2 weeks feeding became easier and I too could put the pump away. The dentist that performed the procedure was wonderful. For anyone that does not believe that tongue and lip ties do not make a difference, we are proof that it does. Keep sharing stories mums and dads to educate the effect that ties have.

  4. Christina says

    I feel for you. We had the same problem with my first born but I was never told of a lactation consultant so after a month had switched to formula and even then was having difficulties until I found a special orthodontic nipple. Five years later when my second came song she fed like a champ but wasn’t gaining weight. I called the lactation lady and she diagnosed her as lip tie and tongue tie right away. We went ahead and had both girls fixed. My older child had speech delays that we later found out we’re from the tongue tie.

  5. Sarah says

    We have a similar story to all of these shared here. I kept reading the same stories over and over again and ended up setting up an Australian Support group for people with tied children (and even ties themselves) to come and get help. We have a list of health professionals that can and will help, and we are trying so hard to get the rest of Australia’s health professionals to realise the huge problems ties can cause, especially with regards to breastfeeding. So many breastfeeding mummas are giving up thinking they have failed and their milk wasn’t good enough for their baby. This is simply not true. Some health professionals have a lot to answer for and need to support mums. When mum thinks there is something wrong, there usually is!

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