Dear Inquiring Mindless,
First off, awwh thanks for asking!
If there are any future Moms or Moms out there, I figured I'd list off the symptoms of lip/tongue tie. Therefore, if they're struggling with nursing this may be the reason why. I think this subject is EXTREMELY important, especially since most undiagnosed/misdiagnosed ties end up with lasting consequences after a baby grows up. Sorry, not sorry this answer is long. I can't place where this statistic came from (since I was doing a bunch of research in July), but the majority of mamas who were unaware of their baby having ties switch to formula within the first one to two months. A simple procedure can change their breastfeeding journey forever! This subject needs to be talked about more! The main reason why I didn't switch is that I didn't want to pay $400/month for dairy free formula.
- Colic and/or irritability
- Coughing, choking, or gulping during feeds
- Difficulty latching
- Excessive drooling
- Gradual sliding off the breast, or pops off to gasp for air
- Gumming, chewing or clamping down on the nipple
- Makes clicking noise while sucking (poor suction)
- Poor weight gain, weight loss, or categorized as "failure to thrive"
- Taking a long time to nurse and still unsatisfied
- Falling asleep while nursing
- Poor latch
- Callus/blister on the middle of the top lip
- Cracked, blistered, and/or bleeding nipples
- Nipples look pinched, creased, bruised, flat, or abraded after feeds (lipstick shaped)
- White stripe at the end of the nipple
- Discomfort while nursing
- Low milk supply
- Plugged ducts
- Thrush and/or mastitis
- Frustration, disappointment, and discouragement with breastfeeding
(source + things off the top of my head)
Long Term Effects of Not Releasing Ties
- Inability to chew age appropriate solid foods
- Gagging, choking, or vomiting foods
- Difficulties related to dental hygiene like tooth decay
- Persistence of dribbling
- Delayed development of speech
- Deterioration in speech
- Behavior problems
- Dental problems starting to appear
- Loss of self-confidence because they feel and sound ‘different’
- Migraine and tension headaches
- TMJ and bruxism
- Lisp and/or stuttering
- Inability to open the mouth widely affects speech and eating habits.
- Always having to watch their speech
- Inability to speak clearly when talking fast/loud/soft
- Clicky jaws
- Pain in the jaws
- Protrusion of the lower jaws, inferior prognathism.
- Dental health, a tendency to have inflamed gums, and increased need for fillings and extractions
- Sensitivity about personal appearance
- Emotional factors resulting in rising levels of stress
- Sleep apnea
+ others that I've read)
First off, I apologize if I reiterate things from my last two questions
In the very beginning, my lactation consultant told me that he latched well in the hospital. He would eat a total of 30-45 minutes for each feeding session. I was rocking it at the hospital, but then we had to go home. Unfortunately, when we got home things got a lot harder. Carl and I woke him up in the middle of the night to get him back to his birth weight (normal for newborns). We struggled to achieve that goal as he always fell asleep while nursing. My pediatrician assured me that him falling asleep was 'normal'. Carl and I would put a cold baby wipe on his body, blow on his hair, or hold him over the humidifier so he'd startle himself awake (when we were desperate and it was 3 a.m. and we wanted to go to bed).
We had to wake him up every 3 hours at night to make sure he was eating enough in the first two weeks. We'd be taking off his swaddle, sleeper, and having him nurse only in his diaper. First, he'd eat on one side, and then we'd be trying to get him to burp. Over and over. And over and over. And over. Once we got something out of him, we'd change his diaper to try and wake him up a little more. Then he'd switch to the other side, repeat with the burping. I would get frustrated because I couldn't get any burps out of him, and he was staying on my shoulder for so long. Carl tried and seemed to be more successful than me. Which meant he had to be up with each night feeding. This made us both very sleep deprived. We'd be up for over an hour and a half or sometimes two hours for each night feed. I remember looking at my Fitbit night statistics and one time I only got an hour and 9 minutes of sleep before we had to wake up again to feed him. I struggled to fall back asleep since I knew I only got so little sleep before we had to wake up again.
To make it even more difficult, Carl Jr. had awful reflux, which meant that we had to sit him be upright for 30 minutes after he finished eating to help the milk stay down and not have him spit up all over his crib. He would spit up all over his crib sheet and his swaddle night after night because he struggled to keep it down. We talked to our pediatrician again about his excess spit up and once again reassured us that the amount of reflux he had was 'normal'. I'm talking salad dish size spit-ups on the floor y'all! There's nothing normal about that! There'd be days where the one day I finally had the energy to shower, he would project vomit in my hair and all over my body. It was a common occurrence where he'd spit up in our bed (since I was so tired I nursed him in our bed). Carl Jr. lived in sleepers the first 3-4 months of his life because he went through 3-5 sleepers per day (thank you $1 sleepers at DI). It was too much effort to take onesies on and off him. We were in survival mode.
When Carl Jr. was ten days old, he was diagnosed with thrush, and later on, so was I. While I was nursing him it felt like there were hundreds of razor blades stabbing my nipples. I didn't want to give up at ten days so I mustered on. That painful feeling continued for two more weeks until we were both officially healed. Since it's so painful, I wouldn't wish thrush on my worst enemy. The medication Carl Jr. was on made his reflux even worse. We were even more diligent in keeping him upright for 30 minutes, since sometimes we'd be so tired and put him down ten minutes early. With these 30 minutes I would research article after article, Google page after page on how to get a newborn to burp. Asking questions like, "Why is my baby so hard to burp?" and not ONE article mentioned lip or tongue ties.
I think it was all in my head, but I thought Carl Jr. got better with the burping once we figured out he had a cows milk protein allergy, and we went through over 3 months of being dairy-free and his gut was healing. Things never really seemed to have gotten normal. There was some excuse one way or the other that made things difficult. I had accidentally consumed dairy at Wendy's, Red Robin, or he consumed it through his oral vaccinations. He would take a really long time to eat whenever he was awake, and I would always make the excuse of his dairy allergy, reflux, teething, or starting solids being the reason.
By the time Carl Jr. was around six months, there were a few turning points that finally made me think that enough was enough.
First, Carl Jr. had been sitting upright. He understands that he can burp himself. This is a good and bad thing. When I put him on my shoulder to pat his back, I had about a 10% success rate when it comes to getting a burp out of him. This led to me just waiting for him to burp himself. If I got impatient and tried to feed him, he would have trapped air in his stomach and he would spit up all over me.
Second, I asked one of my Facebook Mom groups if anyone had any problems with their baby burping if they had gotten 'dairyed'. Since I thought that he was easier to burp when we were dairy-free, and harder to burp when his digestive system was damaged. Bless this Mom, but she asked if his latch was good, as he would be inhaling excessive air if it was bad. That resulted in me trying to make sure he was latching well for about a week. Well, that didn't really work so well.
Third, (and this was a big one) I was seeing everywhere that mamas are supposed to introduce solids one hour after a feed. I was confused. How the heck am I supposed to introduce solids when on average takes me over an hour to make sure he is eating enough? Sometimes it would take the entire wake window to try and get him to burp and he wouldn't. He's only awake on average for 2 hours. Something must not be right here.
An example of a feed:
10:06 a.m. 1 minute (this could be anywhere from 1:01 to 1:59)
10:07 11 seconds
10:18 19 seconds
10:29 27 seconds
10:30 6 seconds
10:31 14 seconds
10:32 4 seconds
10:39 1 minute
10:40 1 minute
10:52 4 seconds
I tried again later...
11:15 13 seconds
11:17 5 seconds
11:41 3 minutes
11:45 5 seconds
11:45 5 seconds
11:56 56 seconds
11:57 11 seconds
11:58 8 seconds
12:00 25 seconds
I know what you're thinking, "Goldie Rose, why are you forcing Carl Jr. to eat when it's obvious that he's not hungry?" Well, I've been tracking how much he eats for his entire life. I've noticed that if he eats any less than 9-11 minutes in between naps, he's hungry right before he goes down for a nap and whines. (This number also goes down the older he gets as he gets more efficient.) If I give up and try to put him down for a nap before 9 minutes, he will cry until I get him up and feed him. This pushes him back to get to his nap on time and he gets overtired and doesn't sleep as well. It happens time and time again.
Lastly, I noticed Carl Jr. was getting really frustrated that he couldn't eat like he wanted the older he was getting. He was getting really cranky, and I was feeding off his frustration. That's when I did a bunch of research and realized I was right from the very beginning. A wave of relief went over my body to the point of tears. I should have trusted and gone with my Mom instinct because I know my baby best and what's best for him. I finally knew that this was the missing piece to the puzzle. His ties have been causing him to swallow excessive air, his difficulty to burp, and his bad reflux. I remember seeing Moms nurse with a cover where they didn't have to fight with their baby to eat and realized that is how it's supposed to be like.
While it wasn't a fix overnight, Carl Jr. is improving and I'm not spending 6+ hours a day trying to feed him anymore. Honestly, it's probably closer to 2 hours now. I was told that he might not feed correctly 100% of the time and it might take anywhere between 6 weeks to 6 months until that happens. Carl did the math and I have spent an extra 1,000 hours of my life trying to feed/burp Carl Jr. because of his lip and tongue tie. 1,000 hours of patience, frustration, love, and heartache.
It's been almost two months and he's still not latching great. There were a lot of things we had to do post-release to ensure that Carl Jr. would recover well. First, we had to lip and tongue stretches to ensure that his ties wouldn't reattach. Since he has two bottom teeth, he loved to bite me since it was painful for him. It was so unpleasant, but we did them four times a day for three weeks. We opted in for the release to be done via CO2 laser instead of traditional scissors because of the faster recovery.
Second, we needed to go to a pediatric chiropractor who knew how to perform craniosacral therapy
on Carl Jr. Well, that was convenient since he's been going to one since he was 2.5 months old! This helped release all the built up tension that he was forming due to the stretches. He was always a tense baby, but after each adjustment, he was soft, like a baby is supposed to be.
Third, I went to an IBCLC, which is a lactation consultant that's WAY more trained. She taught me ways on how to make sure I was nursing properly and setting Carl Jr. up for success. She taught me myofunctional therapy
to help him use the correct facial muscles while eating. She told me that having a lip/tongue tie is like running a marathon with both shoes tied together. You're not running correctly and you figure out a way to make it work with difficult muscles in your legs, but it's not efficient. That's like nursing with ties. It's not efficient and other muscles are used to make up for it. I had to do these myofunctional exercises once a day.
How is he now? He really likes going back to his old ways and he's a fireball. It really depends on the day and how diligent I want to be in trying to get a correct latch. While he was recovering, his mouth was really sore and I would offer to feed him every 30 minutes because he couldn't eat much at once. It was really sad seeing him so uncomfortable, but I know it was for the best. Unfortunately, his discomfort made him 'snack' all day long from that time forward, which got really frustrating. Additionally, it's hard for me not to worry about how much he's eating during the day because he sleeps through the night and I don't want him to be hungry. (We do feed him if he wakes up hungry, it's just I need my sleep in order to not hate the next day.) Now, instead of offering to feed him every 30 minutes, I now do every hour. This is a lot nicer because Carl Jr. really only eats 4 minutes or so before he wants to go off and play.
We have four more months left of our breastfeeding journey, and I think it's going to be a lot easier! His reflux has gotten better by 90%, which is crazy to me. I didn't realize that there was a strong correlation between lip/tongue ties and reflux. Who knew?! I didn't. I'm loving not having to change his outfit four times a day anymore and it's also a plus that I don't have to do laundry every other day. Life has been improving. :)