There’s no question breast feeding has it’s challenges. From the shape of mom’s nipples to the neck rotation of the baby, it all has an impact. But I never knew what would kill our breast feeding relationship would go undetected for so long, although it was right in front of my eyes.
I had heard of tongue and lip ties before having a child but I guess in my mind’s eye, it was super noticeable and severe looking. I thought I knew what I was looking for and I was under the impression his tongue and lip were perfectly fine which meant I kept telling myself I wasn’t trying hard enough. I mean, surely the nurses and doctors in the hospital would have told us if there was a problem!
Fast forward to 6 months old. My son had lost his latch completely and I was exclusively pumping. I was in bed playing with my son one Sunday morning and I looked in his mouth and noticed his upper lip looked really attached to his upper gums. I took a quick picture and asked my local mom’s group if it looks like a lip tie to them. It was a resounding yes. The next day I was in my doctor’s office and he was sending me off for a second opinion from a specialist who does the procedure to cut lip and tongue ties.
Within seconds of the specialist looking in Ollie’s mouth, she declared he had an upper lip tie, tongue tie (which was news to us), and a high palette. She turned to me and said, “Congrats on making it as long as you did! He’s got the trifecta! Your nipples must have been a mess!”
In that moment a wave of relief flooded over me. You mean I wasn’t doing it wrong? You mean the nurses in the hospital that told me if it hurt I was doing it wrong were…wrong? To be told it was something out of my control was a complete relief. She then asked us if we wanted to get them cut. At this point with his latch completely gone, cutting likely wouldn’t help us reestablish a breast feeding relationship. But having the tongue cut could help him with eating and moving food around his mouth and having the upper lip tie cut could help his teeth come in without a space between his two front teeth.
The procedure was very quick and easy. She warned me it would be hardest for mom to see her little baby scream and have blood in his mouth. It was pretty emotional for both Ollie and myself and I was glad my husband came with. But it was over before it even began and I knew it was short term pain for long term gain. I had heard after a year, the procedure isn’t so simple.
So what do you do if you suspect a tongue or lip tie?
Seek medical help immediately. In my very unprofessional opinion, the sooner the better. When I was curious if what we were experiencing was in fact a lip or tongue tie, I found this resource infinitely helpful! Mommypotamus does a great job teaching about tongue and lip ties, what symptoms to look for, and what may happen if it does undiagnosed.
Since we’ve began Baby Led Weaning, I can count the number of times he’s gagged or choked on one hand. I strongly believe we wouldn’t be having so much success with introducing solids if his tongue hadn’t been cut. It’s one of those things we will never know the answer to for sure but I am so confident we made the right decision for us.
Whenever I see a mom asking about latch issues or painful nipples in my mom’s group, I share my story. A second opinion from a doctor or lactation consultant who knows what they are looking for can help with that breastfeeding relationship before the latch is gone completely. With our next baby I’ll be on the look out for tongue and lip ties and will likely have the baby seen by someone who knows what they are looking for, within the first week.
Have you had a baby with tongue or lip tie? Did you have it cut? Why or why not? How are they now!?
PS: I’ll be sharing this post on these blogs!