When my son was born, I told the nurse at the hospital that I wanted to see a lactation consultant because he wasn’t latching correctly. She told me there wasn’t one available that day, assured me he was fine, and that I just needed to reposition him. Having just given birth and being very emotional, I was desperate to go home to my toddler whom I had never left for more than a few hours, so I believed this nurse.
But I knew something wasn’t right. Even though my son was gaining weight and pooping away, the pain of nursing was unbearable and I thought I was getting mastitis, but then the pain went away. At around 3 months, my La Leche leader noticed that it did not look like he was latching as far as he should be and asked that I have him checked for tongue tie. The pediatrician said he didn’t have it, and that because he was gaining weight, he was fine.
But mothers always know. Even if we don’t know what it is, we know when something is wrong.
It is becoming up to us to figure out what is going on with our babies. Nowadays, many people turn to Facebook to ask questions relating to health, as sometimes it’s easier asking total strangers. So when a mother on a babywearing group I’m a member of posted a photo of her 7 month old daughter and asked if she had lip tie, my heart started beating fast as I read through all the comments, and my head started saying “This is it.”
So I looked under his top lip, and sure enough, clear as day, there was his upper labial frenulum, starting from his lip and working all the way down to his gums, reaching where his two front teeth will eventually come through.
I tried to take a good photo, but 6 month old babies don’t like being held down, so here are three examples of what lip tie in a babies can look like
So I put the kids to bed and researched like my life depended on it. It’s hereditary- does that mean I have it? Run to the mirror, yes, I do! This is why my mother was told she had no supply after a month, because no-one caught onto the fact that my lip was tied.
Some of the symptoms associated with a lip tie in babies are:
- Difficulty latching correctly to breastfeed
- Colic/gassiness/reflux from incorrect latch
- Baby thrashing/pulling away from breast
- Baby’s latch falling off nipple
- More frequent night feedings
In mom, it could be
- Very painful nursing
- Cracked/sore nipples
- Mastitis or plugged ducts
- Loss of milk supply
It varies from baby to baby and woman to woman, so if you think something isn’t right, find out from other moms in your area who the best lactation consultant is, who knows how to spot tongue and lip tie. Tongue tie is discussed much more often than lip tie, and we need to change that!
Within 24 hours I went to see a lactation consultant at a free breastfeeding clinic and she confirmed that my son had lip tie. What a weight is lifted off your shoulders when you finally know what is wrong with your baby, despite doctors and nurses saying “he’s fine.” I booked an appointment with Dr James Jesse in Loma Linda, California. He is the very best of the best, a dentist who uses a laser, not a knife, to cauterize the labial frenulum away from the lip. People travel far and wide to get to Dr Jesse, and because the procedure is so fast, I managed to get an appointment the next day.
The doctor and his staff are absolutely wonderful, and he checked all of us and confirmed we all have lip tie except my husband. Dr Jesse said my son’s in particular was severe and when I asked about not losing my milk supply he confirmed that I was lucky I still had it. So we chose to have both children undergo a laser frenectomy. My 2.5 year old daughter went first, and here is what she looked like before:
And here she was during the procedure. They turned the television on for her, gave her a shot to numb the area (I was TERRIFIED she would freak out, but not a word. Not even a flinch. The needle is the smallest apparently) then he lasered it within a few minutes, she hopped off, they gave her a sugar free popsicle and she was as happy as can be.
My son’s was more difficult for me to watch. My husband had to lie in the dentist’s chair and hold his arms down while a very sweet nurse held his head. It is a very quick procedure, only a few minutes, but when your baby is crying (and note- he started crying before the doctor even touched him because he didn’t like being restrained) it feels like an eternity. As soon as it was over he immediately wanted to nurse. I didn’t notice a difference which didn’t surprise me as we caught it so late. The earlier lip tie and tongue tie are treated, the better your nursing relationship will be.
Both kids were absolutely fine throughout the day and sleeping at night, you wouldn’t have even known they’d had this done! Dr Jesse said I could give Children’s Tylenol, but I didn’t see a need. After care is very easy- you simply need to give the top lip three quick lifts every hour while they’re awake for a week to make sure it doesn’t grow back. We instantly noticed a difference in both kids’ smile. Here is what my daughter looked like about 9 hours after the procedure.
Notice in the bottom photo you can slightly see the wound, which means when she smiles, instead of her top lip being pulled by her frenulum, she can now smile freely.
Several people have asked why I chose to have my toddler’s done, as she is no longer nursing. We chose to because lip ties can cause:
- A gap in-between the two top teeth requiring braces
- Cavities in the four top front teeth as food is unable to escape freely
- Speech issues
- Dental issues
Within 24 hours of me posting about this on my Facebook page, 5 children were spotted to have lip ties. This is something that commonly goes unnoticed, along with tongue tie. Both require someone who specializes in this area to diagnose them, not any pediatrician or lactation consultant can spot it. So please spread the word. You could be helping another mother like me who had no idea what was wrong, but knew something was not right.
Have you or your children got lip tie? Or tongue tie? Let us know in the comments below.