Friday, July 17, 2015

Lip Tie, Tongue Tie, and Breastfeeding

As I’m sure my regular readers know from Little A’s breastfeeding journey, ties were a HUGE obstacle to our breastfeeding success! But it wasn’t only a hindrance in breastfeeding. There was not ONE bottle that my poor kid could keep suction with.
So I had to resort to putting the highest flow nipple with my favorite Avent bottle and basically letting the milk pour into little man’s mouth. It was quite a frustrating time period in our house. My husband was (and is) such a peach during each stressful phase of this pregnancy and birth.

The biggest step, however, towards successful feeding was the discovery of a lip tie. I started researching tongue ties since a friend of mine suggested it, but wasn’t completely sold. I brought it up to my local lactation consultant, though, who said “maybe” and referred me to an ear, nose, and throat doc. This doc asked a few questions, such as “does he make a clicking sound when eating,” “is he having reflux issues,” and so forth. He took a look inside his mouth and pronounced an upper lip tie! He said it like it was no big deal – the most natural thing in the world to have a lip tie. I was a bit mystified that all of the issues I’d been dealing with could be easily solved with the correction of a lip tie. SO WEIRD.

Finding information on lip and tongue ties took me FOREVER – and I consider myself a good researcher! So, to save ya’ll the trouble of sifting through all the websites that may or may not contain valuable information, I’ve provided a list of common issues that are involved, and often solved with the diagnosis of, lip and tongue ties.

In Babies:

Poor Latch
Inability to latch
Falling asleep during feeds
Poor weight gain
Weight loss
Chewing or gumming the nipple
Clicking sounds during feeds
Frequently feeding (I'm talking like every hour for days on end and still not enough)

In Mamas:

Increased nipple pain
Breast infections
Frequent clogged ducts
Rarely empty breasts
Low milk supply

For my Little A, the reflux, and other digestion issues were the hardest for me to figure out! And the constant clogged ducts were incredibly hard to deal with. I resorted to making my own breast compress just so I could keep them warm 24/7. When the Doc asked about those issues I COULD NOT believe it was related. More shockers: the upper lip tie creates a gap in those two front teeth. No wonder my hubby and both boys have that gap!! Makes perfect sense!

Since my husband has that gap, he was really hoping the boys wouldn't have to deal with that as well. He grew up very ashamed of that gap. (I, however, LOVE IT. I dunno why. He just looks adorable to me.) As I was considering taking my oldest (now 6) to the dentist to get his lip tie cut, he fell against his bike bar and it split open all by itself! I felt horrible for his ouchie, but grateful it happened by accident. He does NOT take kindly to offices where shots and scissors take residence. ;) 

Does My Little Have A Tie?

When determining the status of your kiddo's mouth, seek help from your local Lactation Consultant, Pediatrician, or Ear Nose and Throat Doctor (ENT). Finding a provider who is knowledgeable about these issues is not always an easy task, so here are some questions to ask:

  • How do you assess for a lip tie or tongue tie?
  • How often to you see these cases?
  • How often do you treat a lip or tongue tie?
  • What methods do you offer as treatment for a lip or tongue tie?
  • Does, in your opinion, a lip or tongue tie contribute to feeding issues? (I included this question after finding many readers comment on this topic with this question.)
After reviewing the common symptoms of tongue/lip ties above and consulting with lactation specialists or the doctor of your choice, you will be well informed and able to recognize if your child does indeed have a tie. 

So He Has A Tie, Now What?

There are a few options when dealing with tongue/lip ties. You can, obviously, go get them cut, which is what I did. But that isn't an option for everyone. Nor does everyone want that option! If you aren't comfortable with the idea of cutting skin inside your kiddos mouth - THAT'S OK.

Converse with the ENT or Lactation Consultant that assisted you in determining the tie issue. There are many ways to deal with lip and tongue ties that don't include cutting. With assistance, patience, and determination, both baby and mama can adapt to new ways of feeding. There are many feeding positions to try if you are breastfeeding, and many different brands/types of bottles to try for those who are bottle-feeding.

There is not one cure-all for tongue and lip ties, and you should choose the method that suits you, your baby, and your mothering lifestyle. For us, cutting the tie was the best option. It would allow my Little to eat freely. YES he cried from the pain, but thankfully, boob juice IS the cure-all for that! (and maybe some Tylenol or other children's pain reliever )Other than general fussiness, such as what would occur with those regular immunization shots, the tie healed nicely, allowing Little A to learn how to keep suction on both the breast and bottle.

Share your stories with me! Has your kiddo dealt with a lip or tongue tie? How did you resolve the issue - or did you?

As always, thanks for stopping by!
- Milk Mama Heather

Linked with these beautiful blog people: Life of Faith,

Disclosure: I am not a medical professional, and all information on this site is strictly opinion. If you aren’t sure about your situation, please seek professional medical advice from your doctor. This post contains affiliate links, which allow me to obtain compensation on products that visitors purchase. That said, I do not link to products that I would not personally recommend.

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