Let me paint a picture for you:
We take Aleesia to her one month well check, discuss her extreme screamy-ness and very clear reflux issues with the doctor. Decide to try going dairy/soy free to see if we notice any changes in her behavior. I noticed some changes, she was very obviously more upset if I ate cheese than if I didn’t but she was still screamy and obviously uncomfortable. So we gave zantac a try to see if it would take the edge off for her. And it really didn’t. So, I made the general assumption that I make tiny little girls who really like to cry and get really uncomfortable when they eat. I also made the assumption that breastfeeding must be okay, she had gained some weight at that appointment and I figured that the discomfort I had and the length of time she spent at the breast were normal because I had no idea otherwise.
I had overheard a conversation between two moms at a jewelry show about driving 4 hours to have their kids upper lip tie (ULT) and posterior tongue tie (PTT) revised with a laser. I had NO FREAKING CLUE what they were talking about so I asked! They told me about these things and I listened. And didn’t think much of it after that. Until Aleesia was about 7/8 weeks old and I looked at her one morning as I was getting her dressed and jokingly said “hey peanut, are you shrinking?” because the onesie I put on her looked bigger than the last time she wore it.
I remembered the conversation from a few weeks prior and reached out to one of the girls just to get a little more information. she pointed me to a local midwife who is really really knowledgeable on the topic and I started reading and researching. And a big HUGE light bulb went off over my head.
I was reading the symptoms commonly associated with ULT/PTT’s. Symptoms you might see in a baby include:
- Colic (had it)
- Reflux (had it)
- Gagging, choking when feeding (she actually “clicked” because she couldn’t maintain any suction at all)
- Snoring/open mouth breathing (had it)
- Prolonged nursing sessions/too frequent nursing sessions (nursing 25+ min on one side!)
- Excessive Crying (re: screamy baby!)
- Foul smelling/odd color bowel movements (yes, but could be from the MSPI too)
- Termination of breastfeeding/refusing the breast when hungry (she would get angry at the breast, actually. because she wasn’t transferring hardly any milk)
- The baby failing to thrive/slow weight gain (yep)
- Poor bonding between baby and mother
- Sleep deprivation
- Problems with introducing solids
Things that might be experienced while trying to breastfeed a tongue/lip-tied baby may include:
- Pain (yes! I totally thought it was normal too)
- Poor milk supply (apparently so)
- Nipple damage, bleeding, blanching or distortion of the nipples
- Mastitis, nipple thrush or blocked ducts (blocked ducts)
- Severe pain with latch or losing latch (yes and yes)
- Sleep deprivation caused by the baby being unsettled
- Depression or a sense of failure
So I did what anyone would do – I looked at her lip and tongue to see if she had a tie. And yes, yes she did.
class IV upper lip tie
really hard to see, but she has a severe posterior tongue tie – her tongue could not touch the roof of her mouth
I actually contacted this midwife directly to discuss and get her clinical advise – and after seeing Aleesia’s pictures she said based on the thickness of her ties - we should visit a dentist that could fix these problems with a small laser. We also discussed how these ties are midline defects that tend to have a profound effect on a baby’s GI system once fixed.
I would do pretty much anything to make the screamy baby a happy one – so we made an appointment to get this little problem taken care of. We saw the nicest man who was so knowledgeable about ties – and really committed to helping women successfully breastfeed which was kind of a cool thing. The whole procedure took about 3 minutes. It was SO simple and easy. The worst part, hands down, is the stretches we have to do on her lip and tongue to make sure everything heals right and doesn’t reattach.
The difference in feeding after the procedure was night and day.
I had NO IDEA how uncomfortable I was until I wasn’t any more! her upper lip was swollen for a few days, but she has healed so so well.
She doesn’t get so angry when she eats (probably because she is actually able to hold suction and get milk out!), her gas pains are greatly diminished and her reflux seems less severe. I have taken her to a chiropractor for a cranio-sacral adjustment since she was basically only using her lips to suck with – that has helped her facial muscles become stronger and her latch/suck mechanism to improve.
I just happened to be nosy enough to ask for more information when eavesdropping on someone else's conversation and found this solution that has potentially made my baby much less screamy, much happier and MUCH more satisfied. I fully believe that this was the right decision for us – breastfeeding is so hard on it’s own, when a baby literally can’t latch or feed it is obviously that much harder – and it is such a simple fix. However! I did go to my pediatrician and to a lactation consultant – neither of which checked her mouth because it just isn’t something they look for. The dentist that did the procedure? He put his finger in her mouth to feel her suck and in literally 2 seconds knew what the problem was and why we were having the problems we were.
It’s amazing the information that is out there and the information that is not – this is a real thing, that causes real problems – if you are looking for more information on upper lip and tongue ties – leave me a comment or shoot me an email, I’d be happy to chat with you about it/share more of our experience.