‘I was absolutely shocked. How could tongue-tie be missed?’ Mum’s frustration at misdiagnosis

When Klaudia Haupt realised her daughter Evie was struggling during the first few months of feeding she started to grow concerned.

Noticing her daughter wasn’t able to attach to her breast properly and was suffering with wind and cramps, she decided to ask what was going on in a routine check-up.

“When I was pregnant I wasn’t even sure that everyone could easily breastfeed. I was still thinking that lots of people had problems, and I bought formula just in case.

‘When Evie was born I had no problems with my milk supply or anything, so for me it’s pretty clear that I wanted to breastfeed. That was the natural way, and that was just what I wanted,” Klaudia, who lives in East London with her partner Steve, told GoodToKnow.

“When she was at hospital the paediatrician who checked her over, as part of the routine discharge check-up, said that she didn’t have tongue tie. She was winging and crying a lot. I was like, what’s going on here? The health visitor was there, and thought it was just colic. But even after the diagnosis, she was still really struggling.”

It was when she reached out to other mothers on a parenting forum that she realised her daughter might have a tongue tie, a condition where the strip of skin connecting the baby’s tongue to the floor of their mouth is shorter than usual.
The condition, which affects around four to 11 per cent of newborn babies, can affect the way a child feeds, and impact them later on in life.

For mums, it can also increase their chance of developing breastfeeding pain, sore or cracked nipples, mastitis and a low milk supply.

Although tongue tie – where the skin connecting the baby’s tongue to the bottom of the mouth is shorter than usual – is normally spotted by a health visitor in a routine visit, it can sometimes be missed – which left Klaudia confused.

‘I got lots of feedback off parents who said “get her checked for tongue tie.” But I was confused – even the health visitor said she had no tongue tie.

On the back of the advice, Klaudia decided to seek out a second opinion.

‘I consulted a lactation specialist, who came over to look at me feeding Evie. She said that she has a severe anterior tongue tie.’

An anterior tongue tie, which is situated at the front of the tongue, can affect how teeth are formed, cause speech difficulties and headaches.

‘I was absolutely shocked. How could this be missed, especially if it’s an anterior tongue tie? Anterior tongue ties are easy to spot, whereas posterior ones, which are situated at the back of the baby’s mouth, are harder to notice. They are harder to see, and don’t cause much trouble. I was really shocked. I was then told she wouldn’t be seen at the hospital because she’s over twelve weeks old.

‘It really annoyed me, because we then had to pay privately for it. Everything altogether cost around £300.

‘The professionals missed it. She was given colic drugs for a condition she didn’t have. The letdown by the hospital and the professionals frustrated me. They then apologised, and then even the information I got later, that she was too old to receive the treatment, was incorrect. It was the wrong person on the telephone on the wrong day that cost us all that money.’

Klaudia Haupt/Facebook

Although Klaudia has had a frustrating time receiving a diagnosis, she hopes to raise awareness around the warning signs.

Babies with tongue-tie aren’t able to open their mouths wide enough to latch on to the breast properly, and may have difficulty attaching to the breast to feed, says the NHS.

The NHS also reports that struggling newborns might not gain weight as quickly as they should, and might make a “clicking” noise when feeding.

“Evie had a lot of milk spilling around her mouth and you could see she was cramping a lot, and crying a lot,” adds Klaudia.

In order to resolve the issue, babies go through a tongue-tie division.

The quick and near-painless operation allows the baby to feed again within days – and due to the lack of nerve endings at this age, does not cause a great deal of discomfort to the child.

‘It’s just a teeny tiny piece of skin that heals within days. When they cut it, they brought her back and she feed straight away. She didn’t even need any painkillers or anything. We had it done in the afternoon and she was settled the next day.

‘From that moment on, everything with the breastfeeding experience changed. It was pure bliss. I realised, wow this is so different from what she’s been going through for the past few months.’

Klaudia decided to take part in a photo series named Breastfeeding in Public to highlight the importance of the cause.

The photo-series addresses the importance of women feeling comfortable breastfeeding in public.

‘Women need to be more empowered to feed their children, because there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just food, it’s what it is. People choose a bottle, but others choose to breastfeed. It needs to become more normalised in society, I feel. There’s a lot of stigma, but I just thought, I would never put my child’s needs second to someone else’s opinion.

‘Breast milk is full of antibodies and anti-parasites, and all of the fatty acids that are crucial for brain development. All the child needs can be provided through breast milk.

‘Even if she’s a bit ill, or when she’s teething and has a bit of a fever, the component of the breast milk changes with every feed. What a mother’s nipple perceives after the contact with the child’s salvia changes the composition of the breast milk, which is quite incredible. It always provides what the baby needs in that moment of the day. It could probably not do that. And also, the impact it has on attachment, it’s so incredible.

‘For those reasons, I would not change anything.’