I’d like to believe I’m a breast feeding pro since I nursed my first kiddo for 13 months… but apparently the first time I did it all wrong.
If only I knew then what I know now…
I experienced 13 months of painful breast feeding. I was stubborn and determined to make it to a year before I transitioned my little one to whole milk. I was determined to wean her properly (and not just go cold turkey for both of us) which is what carried us over to 13 months…
All the while we both had symptoms. My first daughters symptoms included, diagnosis of failure to thrive and multiple weight checks after we got home from the hospital, poor latch, falling asleep quickly when nursing, waking every 2-3 hours to nurse because she wasn’t emptying the breast(s) at each feed (leading to lots of pumping on my end following feeds and supplementing with breastmilk bottle feeds), mixture of gumming and/or popping off the nipple while trying to latch, was “colicky” and had reflux symptoms without vomiting (which was actually aerophagia), and trouble with managing the flow (e.g., she stayed on a premie bottle nipple her entire first year of life).
As a feeding specialist, many wonder why I didn’t know to look for ties. Let it be known that many speech-language pathologists are NOT trained in lip and tongue ties. That said, I knew to look for them but was not trained in how to assess for ties or to know what I was looking at when I did take a look. Furthermore, everyone reassured me that what I was looking at was normal, which stopped this mama from researching further as I put full trust into the professionals I was seeking help from. I met with professionals early on who didn’t mention anything about ties (and I know an IBCLC cannot diagnose but still feel it is something they should be looking for so they know when to refer out). Furthermore, our pediatrician wasn’t concerned because while my daughter was in the 1st percentile she was consistently gaining weight on her “own” growth curve. At 30 months of age she is still only 25 lbs. She’s a peanut!
I never did get a great picture of L’s tongue tie but I got some good ones of her upper lip. See them throughout this post.
Anyways, jump to 24 months of age. Here I am…a pediatric speech language pathologist, feeding specialist and now undergoing certification as an orofacial myologist and I can’t get my 2-year-old to drink from an open cup. It wasn’t for lack of trying and using every possible therapy tool in my tool box to help her…her lip and tongue ties seemed to be interfering with her successful open cup drinking. And I now knew what I was looking at and how to classify her ties. So off to the ENT I went.
When we know better we do better, right? So here I am with a tied 2 year old. What to do? We were no longer breast feeding so some of the highly recommended area providers didn’t want to release my daughters ties. Despite the fact I told the provider that she was restricted and needed to be released to help with feeding and drinking.
I luckily found a local oral surgeon who was well versed in releases (does hundreds per month), agreed that my little one had a class 4 lip tie and class 3 tongue tie; and, he felt that the tongue tie should absolutely be released for best oral development amongst other things. Thank goodness! We decided to wait on the lip tie as the research shows it can recede between now and puberty. Since she has a closed mouth posture at rest and is a nose breather, we are monitoring that lip tie…for now.
So the tongue tie was released…and getting my 2 year old to do exercises was a fun challenge (enter sarcasm). But we did it! And the most bizarre thing happened; her constipation disappeared 24-hours following the procedure. I can’t seem to find research on this but 5 months later and it hasn’t returned so I think we are on to something here! AND my now 30-month-old can successfully drink from an open cup and has become less picky in her foods she is willing to eat and try. It’s quite amazing, really! Even for this SLP, feeding specialist, certified orofacial myologist mama!!!
I share our story as I had a hard time finding other moms that had been through this that I could connect with as a new mom. I have now found thousands of mama’s (especially on Facebook) but 2.5 years ago, I must have been too sleep deprived to find the right Facebook groups, because it felt like a lonely journey and breastfeeding was just not super enjoyable. Following the birth of my second daughter a few weeks ago, who also was tied, we decided to get her lip and tongue tie released in her first week of life. We will discuss our experience and decision on that in part 2 of our series on lip and tongue ties.
If you have any questions and/or concerns regarding your child’s (or your own!) lip and/or tongue tie(s) please contact Hallie at 301.881.1394 or by emailing email@example.com and I will gladly discuss your child’s case and help you determine next best steps.