I'm raging mad.
Today I found out about a condition in babies which can cause a poor latch when feeding, and lead to serious difficulties with breastfeeding. It's called upper lip tie. Like tongue tie, it can mess up latch and lead to poor milk tranfer, lack of weight gain in baby, pain for mum and suffering for both.
Guess what, both of my girls have it. The severe type at that. That's the one where the tie goes from in the middle of the top front teeth to the upper lip.
Now, when I was a new mum, breastfeeding wasn't at all off to a good start. I really struggled, and having had a good friend who was also a health visitor and had drummed into me to get support for every.single.feed in hospital, I sought support. Midwives, volunteers, health visitors, support groups, online forums, books. I did it all. And still I was in agonising pain for 8 weeks, and still my baby never seemed satisfied. I have pictures of her with eyes so tired of crying, crying that was put down to colic. I had to call Crysis even, I didn't know what to do anymore. We had days where she cried for hours and nothing would soothe her. At 12 weeks I caved in and supplemented with formula, I could not see my baby be hungry any longer.
At no point was tongue tie/lip tie mentioned or indeed checked. I only found out about tongue tie when my second was born. And only now, I found out about lip tie.
Lip tie does not necessarily lead to difficulties breastfeeding, but it may because it can restrict the movement of the mouth and lead to a shallow latch, which in turn means milking the breast doesn't work so well. I had no major issues with my younger girl, she fed frequently and was also slowish gaining weight but she was always happy after feeds and clearly not going hungry. There was also clearly a lot of output the other end. As for me, I had no pain or soreness at all with her. Both have the exact same severity of lip tie -so in one case it made life really difficult, in the other it didn't have an impact (though I wonder if it may have had an impact on her reluctance to take to solids).
So in this anger at the omission of the medical profession to look my baby in the mouth instead of praising how well I was doing and ignoring the obvious signs of something not being right (my instinct had always told me, but I didn't know the tell tale signs of insufficient milk transfer then), here's my shout out to anyone who ever struggles with breastfeeding: read up on tongue ties and lip ties, and how to remedy. It might be what's wrong and it often goes undiagnosed. The snip is quick and easy.
I'm angry that I was sent to baby massage class to help with the colic (or improve my bonding with baby), rather than remedy what was really wrong. There was lack of output the other end, a baby who looked forever tired and kept falling asleep at the breast but who would never stop suckling because she wasn't full. I nursed 12 out of 24 hours for 6 months. I was exhausted. I was in pain. I told so many people and nobody, yes, nobody took it seriously.
What is beyond me is why babies aren't check as a matter of course. It only takes a minute, and can avoid months of suffering.
Postscript: Here are some of the best resources on lip tie I found online. Lip tie doesn't have to mean difficulties with latch, but it can, especially because it can come hand in hand with a posterior tongue tie (which is hard to spot and often overlooked).