What you need to know about tongue tie

01 August 2019

World Breastfeeding Week is a global campaign dedicated to the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding. It takes place on the week of the 1 - 7 August, and is run by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action.

Not everyone wants to or can breastfeed, and sometimes there is a physical struggle with breastfeeding, known as tongue tie. At Spire Parkway Hospital, Solihull near Birmingham, we have a number of specialist consultants working in our tongue tie clinic. Here Mr Bruce Richard, a Consultant Plastic Surgeon and Paediatric Specialist from Spire Parkway Hospital, answers a few questions on tongue tie.

 What is a tongue tie?

‘Tongue tie’ is the name for a remaining tightness in the base of a normal tongue’s development that affects 3 - 5% of new-born babies. It is more common in premature babies.

All babies are born with a fibrous band (or frenulum) that attaches the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Tongue tie is caused by a tight or short membrane under the tongue. The tongue tip may appear blunt or forked, or have a heart shaped appearance. This may lead to breast feeding difficulties. Babies can have difficulty latching onto the nipple, and breast feeding can be very sore for the mother with babies feeding constantly - leading to frustration. This often results in the mother abandoning breast feeding in favour of bottle feeding.

Who can confirm my baby has tongue tie?

Following the birth of your child you will have regular contact with your midwife and health visitor who can examine the child, but you can also speak to your GP if you're concerned. You do not need a GP referral for a tongue tie appointment at Spire Parkway Hospital.

Can division of tongue tie help?

Treating tongue tie early can aid breast feeding, but not all babies with tongue tie require an intervention.

Breast milk is the healthiest way to feed your baby. Benefits include longer protection and greater benefits with the breast milk adapting to meet your baby’s changing needs. Choosing to breast feed your new-born baby may be an easy decision, but sometimes breast feeding isn’t as easy as it seems.

Q: How quickly could I have a consultation and how much would it cost? 

A: It depends on the availability of the consultant you wanted to see, but we pride ourselves on getting you fast access to diagnosis and you can often get a consultation within 24/48 hours. Initial consultation fees vary by consultant, but around £175 is a reasonable guide.

You can book online with Mr Bruce Richard.

Q: If I need surgery, how quickly could I have it?

A: We have no waiting lists at Spire Parkway, but again, it depends on the availability of the consultant you wanted, but as a guide, and subject to your pre-operation assessment, between one and two weeks. 

Q: I don’t have health insurance, can I self-pay? 

A: Yes, you can. Our self-pay team can talk you through this and explain the finance options that are available, should you wish to explore them. Call 0121 704 5530 or send an enquiry.

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