•How to breastfeed a tongue-tied baby • How I found lip and tongue ties in my baby • See a sudden drop in milk supply at 10 weeks? • How I discovered something the Lactation Consultants and Pediatricians missed! •
Holy vulnerability, guys..
This all started when I was texting with a friend about my 2-year-old. She doesn’t speak much at all- in fact toddlers younger than her can count to 10 and speak in sentences. [Comparison certainly is the thief of joy, but that’s a whole other post.] I’ve had her evaluated a few times by different doctors and they have all said she’s fine. Her comprehension skills are impressive; her expressive speech is all that seems to be delayed.
Still feeling concerned I was chatting with my friend, and she sent me a link to an article about possible causes of speech delay, and it was then when I realized no one has ever looked in her mouth! It seemed so obvious yet no one had thought of it. Well, I looked in her mouth and saw a very apparent lip tie and tongue tie. I decided to check my two month old, and sure enough, she had ties as well! Why is this important?
Breastfeeding a Lip/Tongue Tied Baby
Lip ties and tongue ties can make it really hard for babies to breastfeed. They can’t flange their lip, and they can’t lift their tongue to the hard palate to compress the nipple and create a suction vacuum seal. Some babies can’t latch at all, and if they do it is a really shallow latch. What does this mean? Well, the baby won’t be able to fully empty your breast- they will begin rely on the letdown. This means they will be hungry even if they seem to be finished nursing. This also means your supply will plummet!
Breastmilk is supply and demand.You must remove milk to make milk. If you aren’t removing the milk your baby isn’t able to, then you will make less milk. What can you do? PUMP YOUR BRAINS OUT!
I began pumping every 2 hours, or after every nursing session when I discovered my baby’s ties. Setting alarms in my phone with encouraging reminders helped to remind me to pump, especially over night. I know what you’re thinking- how is this sustainable? There must be an easier option. Well you can always get the lip/tongue ties revised.
Why We Chose to Revise
Up until my daughter, Raleigh, was about 9 weeks old, I had a little bit of an oversupply. And I was honestly excited about it since I struggled to keep up with the demands of my older daughter, Rowan (who incidentally also had undiagnosed lip and tongue ties). Raleigh was reaping the benefits of my overactive letdown and was able to eat a full meal without doing a whole lot of work.
But at about 10 weeks, the body starts to rely on latch instead of hormones to regulate the milk supply. With her lip and tongue ties, she was unable to have a good latch, and therefore unable to transfer milk from the breast. This poses a serious problem. She stopped producing a good amount of wet diapers, and she went four days without having a bowel movement. Determined to keep her fed, I tried to give her a bottle, and she couldn’t latch onto that either. I had to resort to feeding her with the syringe. This is totally unsustainable, and if she is so restricted that she can’t eat something needs to be done.
The Steps We Took for Revision
I posted in a moms group on facebook, and they posted a link to a lip and tongue tie website that told me the list of preferred providers. Visit the website here to find a preferred provider in your state! I made an appointment with our provider for an evaluation. Fortunately my 2-year-old didn’t need to be revised- at least not at this time. But my two month old definitely needed immediate revision. We were able to get an appointment 5 days away from our initial consultation. I spent hours reading about the procedure and even watching videos. There are some good videos posted here. My research also led me to a blog written by Dr. Ghaheri who performs these procedures very frequently. He wrote a post that I found particularly resourceful about breastfeeding a tongue-tied baby and the compensations babies might employ to attempt to nurse. Check it out here.
The Frenectomy Procedure
It was finally revision day! The doctor talked to us about the procedure and told us what we could expect to observe. They swaddled her tightly and the dental hygenists held her while the dentist performed the procedure. We went in and they gave us these glasses to wear to protect our eyes from the laser. We could watch her through a viewing window. It took less than three minutes to complete both her lip and her tongue tie. She didn’t even bleed, as the laser simply vaporized the tissue. immediately following the procedure, we walked down the hall to the lactation room where the lactation consultant watched her nurse. She also showed me the stretches and exercises we would have to do to be sure the tissue would not reattach.
My girl who hadn’t pooped in four days pooped twice in one day just the day after the procedure! She’s been latching and transferring milk like a boss. She doesn’t fight the stretches, and is such a strong little fighter. I am so proud of how she’s handled everything. I’ve definitely been more emotional and anxious during all of this, and she’s been her happy-go-lucky self.
Two days after her procedure we saw the craniosacral therapist (CST) for some body work. She was recommended by the dentist and lactation consultant. This was such an incredible experience! I’m personally really satisfied with body work, so I was in my element the whole time. She was educating me on how to work with Raleigh, and she showed me Raleigh’s current strengths, weaknesses, and compensations. I’m really excited to have her help during all of this.
Four days after her procedure we went to see the lactation consultant. She showed me several techniques to deepen Raleigh’s latch. We also did a weighted feed. Before the procedure Raleigh took in less than an ounce at a weighted feed. At this appointment she took in 6.6 oz! The LC literally said “That’s a crap ton of milk!”
We still have a few more follow-up appointments to attend, but I think this experience has been life changing for Raleigh, and I’m so glad we did it. She has been more vocal, and even more smiley than before! I think about what her life would have been life if we hadn’t done the revision, and struggling to eat and speak just sounds terrible! If your baby is experiencing this or any of these symptoms, be encouraged. After all, the days are long, but the years are so short!