When Olive was born the nurses and the hospital’s lactation consultant helped us to get breastfeeding going. I remember the lactation consultant getting Olive to stick her tongue out and saying, “Oh good, she’s not tongue tied”.
Looking back I can recognize that we had a lot of problems nursing before we even left the hospital. I nursed Olive for long periods of time and she continued to root around afterwards. She also had a hard time staying on my breast and cried when I tried to latch her on. I called nurses in for help and they did, but I still felt like things weren’t right. Everyone kept saying that the latch looked good so I trusted them. I should have trusted myself instead; I was the one who knew Olive and myself best.
When we got her home she started to miss feedings because I couldn’t get her latched on and then she would fall asleep and not wake for feedings. She had lost a lot of weight so we went to the pediatrician who referred us to another lactation consultant.
This lactation consultant helped us to get Olive fed and get my milk supply on track. I had to nurse, pump and finger feed for a week or two and then I started to feel like things were OK enough.
It’s OK if I have pain when she nurses as long as she’s getting fed right?
Olive was crying at the breast and had terrible reflux, which are both possible signs of lip or tongue tie. It turned out that those signs were also related to her dairy sensitivity, which explains why I couldn’t quite pinpoint where they were coming from (because they were coming from two totally separate issues).
It was frustrating feeling like something was wrong but not having any idea what.
When Olive went to her 4 month check up she was still on the very bottom of the weight chart so her pediatrician recommended that I start solids. I started Olive with homemade brown rice cereal and avocado. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to digest so I consulted my LLL leader (I was also reading “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” which recommends waiting until at least 6 months to introduce solids).
Solids were obviously not the right “fix” for our problem. (We ended up changing pediatricians after Olives 6 month checkup when her doctor totally brushed off the correlation between Olive’s reflux and dairy in my diet).
My LLL leader gave me some information on tongue and lip tie’s and I started to do some research myself. It was looking like a tongue and/or lip tie could be the reason that Olive was not gaining well.
My LLL leader recommended that we take a picture of the underside of Olive’s tongue and send it to the pediatric dentist who specializes in tongue and lip tie revision (Dr. Lawrence Kotlow). Once we took the picture I was sure she had a tongue tie. Dr. Kotlow confirmed that it was a tongue tie and recommended that we go in as soon as possible. When we arrived for our appointment Dr. Kotlow confirmed that she also had a lip tie.
The procedure only took about 10 minutes. Matt and I waited in a room while it was done and Olive came back immediately able to latch on much better. Her lip actually flipped out on it’s own. It was amazing! There was only a tiny bit of blood, about what you would expect from a piercing or if you were to bite your cheek. She was a little bit fussy the rest of the day but by the following day she didn’t seem to have any pain.
Olive was finally able to get enough to eat, what a relief!
It turns out that Olive had a posterior tongue tie. This kind of tongue tie is the easiest to overlook because the baby can do a lot of things with his or her tongue that tongue tied babies usually can’t do.
It’s such a frustrating thing to go through for a new mom who has no way to compare what she’s experiencing to “normal” breastfeeding. The biggest thing that I’ve learned from this experience is to trust my instincts. Moms (and dads too) know their babies and selves best.
Click here for tongue and lip tie information and ways to tell if your baby has one.