Like most people, I had no idea what that word even meant a few weeks ago. Then my dear son was born. As perfect as he is, we have struggled with nursing since day 1. I thought at first it was because he was congested, but once that went away we still were having problems. I’m not one to throw in the towel easily, but nursing was getting to be a frustrating and painful experience.
Then we discovered he has a lip tie. Successful nursing requires the upper lip to flare out and he was incapable of doing that because of how tight his frenulum was. So we talked to the pediatrician and he agreed that it would cause problems, but it was more severe than what he felt comfortable fixing in his office. So we went to an ENT and he said he could surgically fix it, but he couldn’t guarantee me that the surgical center wouldn’t use a general anesthesia on Thomas.
There was no way I was putting my 4 week old under general anesthesia. Google “infant anesthesia risks” if you want to lose sleep…
I was about to give up on getting it fixed, but my mom mentioned that there was a dentist up in Fort Worth who did the surgery with a laser and how the laser was supposed to be much better, safer, etc. I read up on the different options online and figured it was worth going up there and at least getting a consultation.
The dentist, Dr. Oser, was incredibly friendly and reassuring about the whole procedure. He checked the severity of Thomas’ lip tie and also discovered he had a bit of a tongue tie. That was news to me, but Mom (who went with me) was not surprised based on some of the odd tongue movements we had seen him doing.
The lip tie:
The tongue tie (the frenulum turning white when stretched is the indicator):
For the curious, there is a good article about the different ties and how the laser is used to fix them here. Mom sat in on the procedure since she is a nurse and lactation consultant, but I had no interest in seeing my poor guy being lasered. Mom said he did great and was more upset about being held down for the procedure than the actual procedure.
Nursing has already improved, though he is still a little swollen and can’t quite flare his lip out completely. The other side benefit is that he can move his tongue way more than he used to be able to. I sent Matt a video of him the next morning to prove that Thomas was fine and he was sticking his tongue out and making all kinds of happy noises. Here he is showing off his tongue to his dad once we got back to Houston. :)
So if you know of anyone having trouble nursing a newborn, please tell them to consider that their baby might be lip or tongue tied. It’s made a world of difference in our case and I don’t have to worry about future dental problems or speech impediments. And one less worry is awesome for a new mom!