“It was just horrendous, there was blood everywhere and Aurelien was screaming,” said mum, Elise Le Roux, describing the laser surgery she had done on her two-week-old baby to revise tongue and lip ties.
Elise is one of thousands of mums caught up in what has been described as an epidemic of babies having their tongue and lip ties cut or lasered.
A new study has just found a 420 per cent increase in Medicare funded frenectomies over the past decade and a 3710 per cent increase in the Australian Capital Territory where there were no dentists doing frenectomies until recently.
This figure is probably more accurate of overall rates because dentists are doing most of them but don’t claim Medicare.
Facebook groups encouraging women to pursue these frenotomies are exploding with one group listing 63,000 members as mums desperately seek advice and support from other mums.
Elise said despite having the laser surgery performed on her son at just two weeks old, the feeding did not improve.
“We were told the feeding would get better. We went to see another lactation consultant who told us we had done the right thing and gave me advice on pumping and using donor milk," Elisa said. "I ended up in a very dark place. I did insane amounts of pumping and I was housebound and chairbound. It was all consuming."
After continuing to search for options, Elise found Professor Pamela Douglas at the Possums Clinic.
“The minute I walked into Pam’s office it was completely different. She was incredible and showed me different ways to feed. She made me focus on the positives and changed the way he was sucking. It was incredible. He quickly began thriving, sleeping better and wasn’t windy,” she said.
Aurelien has just turned two and continues to successfully breastfeed, but Elise still regrets putting him through the surgery.
“I feel like I was conned by people who were too willing to take our money,” she said.
A new documentary premiering in Australia on May 19 will explore the issues surrounding tongue ties.
Untying BREASTFEEDING premiers at the Australian Society for Tongue and Lip Ties symposium on the Gold Coast and seeks to raise awareness and understanding of the problems faced by breastfeeding mums and the lack of support they come up against.