Brody's Lip Tie: Our journey to the happiest baby on the block
If you know me at all, you know how serious I take breastfeeding. Second to growing a tiny human, it really is the most amazing thing our body can do. We make milk tailor made to grow our babies! Brody is exclusively breastfed at 5 months old and it is easy and routine, but that doesn't mean the journey was all smooth sailing. Both of my boys were diagnosed with "colic" at just a few weeks old. If you ask me the term colic is crap, it basically means we don't know why your baby is so miserable because they are otherwise healthy.... Follow your mommy intuition. It does not fail. I searched long and hard for a solution to Carter's misery and came up short, but I always knew I was missing something. When Brody was born and the colic nightmare started all over again, I was terrified. If you have a colicky baby, my heart goes out to you. IT IS SO HARD. Luckily, I posted on a local mom group out of desperation, describing all of our symptoms: Reflux. Crying 24/7. Trapped burps. Gas. Misery during and after every feed. Clicking while nursing and fighting at the breast. Inconsolable.
Someone suggested to get Brody evaluated for a tongue and lip tie by a lactation consultant. I remember Amey, our lactation consultant, coming over for our evaluation and I was in tears, I told her "you are my last hope, my last hope to have an enjoyable nursing journey and more importantly a happy baby." She didn't blink an eye, she talked me through my meltdown and gave me a game plan. I had hope.
I really hope this post will raise awareness for something I had never even heard of before Brody was born. Knowing about ties could have potentially helped Carter's reflux, colic, and have made our breastfeeding journey much easier.
TONGUE AND LIP TIES. What the heck is that?!? Since Brody only had a lip tie, that's all I can attest to. Without going into too much detail, a lip tie restricts the function of the upper lip. It prohibits the lip from flaring out allowing for a deep latch and proper seal. if you have ever breastfeed, that's probably one thing you do know: latch is everything.
While I am not an expert, after working with a pediatric dentist, our pediatrician, and a lactation consultant(IBCLC) this was how I understood what was going on with Brody (and presumably Carter). With a poor latch due to the lip tie, they took in a significant amount of air causing a lot of belly discomfort as well as silent reflux. The reflux and tummy trouble was reason for "the colic". Dietary changes, reflux meds, nothing was working because the underlying problem was the lip tie. as long as we had the lip tie, the discomfort would continue.
I walked into Dr Bienstock's office very nervous and unsure, I hated to put Brody through something that may or may not work. The revision or clip basically cuts the frenulum so the lip is no longer "tied" to the gum which allows for a better latch. At this point Brody was pretty much crying 24/7, nursing was stressful and miserable for both of us, and I knew I had to try.
The procedure was quick and I nursed immediately after in a private room at the office. The latch felt different but a few days had passed and I wasn't seeing any improvement. I was pretty devastated, but sure enough about 6-7 days after the procedure, something clicked and Brody was a new baby. I understand this time frame to be pretty common after the revision, relearning to latch and to draw milk out efficiently takes time, plus the procedure is probably pretty painful. He no longer fought the Breast, he no longer cried after and during every feed, he no longer cried at all! He really turned into the happiest baby! It was the best decision I have ever made for so many reasons. If your pediatrician tells you that your baby has "colic" I urge you to follow your mommy instincts.
I asked Amey to help explain things from her perspective, after all, without her I would probably be bottle feeding and still have a colicky baby.
"When I first became an IBCLC in 2012 I thought that helping moms and babies with breastfeeding would be easy. I had been doing just that in the hospital as an RN for over 14 years. There was nothing in my training that prepared me for what I was going to find outside of the hospital. Even the exam I took to become an internationally board certified lactation consultant only referenced the type of tongue tie that was so obvious anyone would know that something wasn’t right.
I was able to go to the IATP (International Association of Tongue-tie Professionals) conference in in June of 2013. This opened up a wealth of knowledge and resources for me.
Obviously, tongue and lip ties are not always the source of breastfeeding difficulties but when it is, it can present differently in every baby. A baby that can stick out their tongue may still have a restricted tongue. When there is clicking, chomping or a chewing sensation, the baby may be able to stick out their tongue, or extend it to the gumline but the baby cannot maintain that during the entire feed. Babies that choke, cough and sputter at the breast may be tongue tied. When the lip is restricted it can cause what presents like digestive issues. When a baby can’t maintain a seal they may suck in a lot of air. This may be mistaken for colic or reflux."
Getting an assessment is the first step in ruling out a tie, I have listed Amey's info below but if you are not local to Phoenix, I would highly recommend finding an IBCLC who is familiar with ties as well as a pediatric dentist. If you are nursing and having a tough time, PLEASE seek help! Amey reminded me that a lot of physicians say "breastfeeding doesn't work for everyone". For me, this isn't a good enough answer, we need a why! Why isn't breastfeeding working? Moms deserve more than that. While I am a firm believer in fed is best, that is only secondary to breast is best. For some babies breastfeeding struggles or colic is a simple dairy intolerance, for others a tongue tie, others potentially just a poor latch, but there are professionals who WILL help you succeed at breastfeeding and I wish pediatricians would include this in their referral system. Lets help moms who want to breastfeed be successful! I am also always here to talk to new breastfeeding mamas to steer you in the right direction.
Amey Clark AZ Breastfed Babies LLC
Dr Lisa Bienstock Dr. Lisa Bienstock | Pediatric Dentist | Scottsdale | Phoenix
Bravado Designs Body Silk Seamless Nursing Cami: https://www.bravadodesigns.com/us/products/body-silk-seamless-nursing-cami?variant=28299897287
Dr Ghaheri has a lot of good info on ties http://drghaheri.squarespace.com/blog/