Note: This post is a personal recap of our experience of N’s lip & tongue tie. I wrote it down, while not overly detailed, in hopes that someone might stumble upon it and it helps you in your situation. Our symptoms of having a ‘tied’ infant were classic so I won’t list them here in detail. As of writing this, we are still struggling with nursing but it’s getting better.
The past three weeks has been full of learning – and the learning curve had been steep! Immediately after N was born similar issues with breastfeeding started cropping up that I had experienced with J. It was looking like it was going to be the same story all over again: Pain with nursing, eventual cracked and bleeding nipples, insufficient weight gain, and eventual formula feeding. I felt sad that that was going to be our story again – I had looked forward to trying to breastfeed again. I also have to be realistic: I have a toddler and can’t spend all my time sitting around pumping for a baby. There has to be a balance of looking after everyone, myself included!
The Midwifery clinic I have received all of my care from both pregnancies knows me quite well now and one of the doulas recommended I see a lactation consultant (LC) immediately, rather than waiting (it was 2 weeks before I saw an LC last time). N was born on Saturday and I saw the LC (I’ll call her Sarah) on Tuesday. She has been amazing! During that initial visit, we discovered that N was lip and tongue tied. She was ‘minor’ but Sarah felt we should watch her since simple growth and strength development may not have resulted in N being able to feed more effectively.
I did end up seeing a GP who clips tongue ties locally, but he felt there was nothing to clip. As well, he didn’t look at the lip tie. He was kind and gentle – I appreciate him looking at N for anything overly obvious but he isn’t a specialist in ties so I wasn’t expecting much. I did feel relieved that there was nothing overly obvious!
By week 2 of little N’s life, breastfeeding was starting to go off the rails. I was cracked, she was having trouble staying on me and her symptoms were starting to worsen. Sarah felt it was time to see a specialist. The midwives agreed.
In the Greater Vancouver area there is only one dentist who specializes in these laser frenectomies, so if you are reading this to gather more information on what to expect and you are from this part of British Columbia, you will be seeing Dr. Jimmy Chan. Our experience was incredibly positive – they were professional, kind, gentle with N and thorough. He diagnosed N with a Class III lip and tongue tie – here are some links to photos so that you can see a Class III lip and tongue tie.
The first 24 hours after the procedure, N was fussy and clingy. I gave her two doses of infant Tylenol during that time, about 8 hours apart. The first time I had to do her exercises (the stretches you are taught to ensure there is no reattachment), she screamed. I have been using Orajel Natural Source, mostly for lubrication, while doing her stretches. I think it’s helped. It is advised not to use the original Orajel as it has benzocaine in it and she’s just too young for it. She didn’t’t feed well during this time either as she was getting too tired. Remember that the infant has to relearn how to use their tongue and engage muscles they’ve never used so it’s incredibly tiring.
When I do get stretches now, 72 hours part procedure, she doesn’t cry. Fusses, yes but not screaming. I am still using the Orajel.
I’ve noticed a difference already in nursing her. I don’t have to support the tissue anymore to keep a deep latch and my right side is already healing. Her latch isn’t perfect yet – she has learning to do and she’s getting too tired to drain me adequately so I’ve been pumping to ensure I don’t develop more plugged ducts (I have one that just won’t let go – thus far no complications — fingers crossed it doesn’t escalate!!).
I will be seen and supported from a breastfeeding point of view by the midwives and LC over the next week or so to ensure nursing continues adequately, that her latch continues to improve and I continue to heal. There is also one follow up appointment with Dr. Chan.
This has been an eye opening experience – tiring due to the number of appointments and a lot to learn as we navigated this anomaly with her mouth. In hind sight, J had a lot of the same symptoms and sure enough when I looked in his mouth, he has a minor tongue tie. He isn’t lip tied. I am both tongue and lip tired, as is my brother. My mom had a hell of a time trying to nurse us and eventually made the same decision I did with J. Many people end up in that situation because these ‘minor’ ties are being missed and under diagnosed. If you suspect your baby might be tied, get assessed! The assessment fee is only $35 and to have some answers about why your nursing experience might be going poorly means it’s worth it!
If you are in this situation and just wanting to know more about the details of our experience, how things went in the weeks/months post, please email me (see side bar) — I am happy to provide more insight into our experience.