Breastfeeding with a Lip or Tongue Tie

Before and directly after my daughters lip revision

Both of my babies being born with lip AND tongue ties is one of the things I was least prepared for in motherhood. I knew nothing about how common these were, or what a serious problem they impose on your attempts to breastfeed. I want to take a moment to address all the mamas out there just finding out their babies struggle with this, or mamas-to-be that should be informed on potential breastfeeding obstacles like this!

A lip and tongue tie are conditions that cause the skin of the upper lip and underneath the tongue to have limited movement.

I knew my first baby had troubles latching but I didn’t know what those reasons were until she was 5 months old and diagnosed with a lip and tongue tie. Her lip was much more severe than her tongue so we made the decision to revise it, and she breastfed perfectly after that!

If I could go back in time and have knowledge of this problem, it could have saved us months of stress, feedings with a nipple shield, and the gradual decline in weight my baby had from not eating well enough.

The second time around our tongue tied girl is a little bit different and that’s what I want to talk to you about today.

We have (for now) decided not to revise our second daughter’s tongue tie.

Our reasons for this decision are that a) this is procedure that comes with pain and potential risks and b) she is breastfeeding and gaining weight so its affect on her is not severe.

So what are some things that can help if this is a decision you’ve made? Here are a few of the things that have really helped me in being successful while breastfeeding my lip and tongue tied baby.

  1. Become familiar with what a perfect latch is, and aware of the latch your baby is receiving at every feed. Most moms can just put their baby near their chest and let the baby do all the work because latching is not an issue for them. But with a lip/tongue tied baby YOU will have to help do that work. A good latch involves a wide open mouth, flanged out lips, and their chin against you. This perfect latch will not come naturally to your baby. This is of course the single greatest obstacle of a lip/tongue tied baby. Therefore, it is extremely important that you become familiar with a good latch and get as close as possible to it at every feeding.
  2. Do not be afraid to pull baby off and reattempt the latch when something is off. A bad latch can lead to a vast array of problems such as, pain or chapping of your nipples and too much air intake creating gas bubbles for your baby. That is why if baby is showing signs of a bad latch- do not be afraid to immediately remove them and reattach. A few signs of a bad latch- milk leaking, baby making a clicking noise, or no swallowing noise.
  3. Combat the milk leakage with extra burp cloths. Sometimes your baby may need a little extra help in getting their latch right. You may be soaking your bra with the milk dripping out in between that latching/unlatching and repositioning. For this reason I bring two burp cloths with me to every feeding- one to tuck into my bra underneath baby, and one to actually burp her on.
  4. Find the angle your baby finds easiest. My first girl did best with her latch the more perpendicular she was to me. I tried to cradle her in more of a sitting on my lap position to encourage the good latch she gets this way. So try moving around, try different holds or positions and use the support of a nursing pillow!
  5. Keep up your milk supply! A low supply can mean a slow let down of milk. While your baby is waiting for let down, their latch can become shallow and they may pull away getting frustrated. Your baby’s lip/tongue tie is already frustrating in their attempts to eat. Attempting to get a frustrated baby to latch is much more difficult than a relaxed baby. Make the milk more abundant and easily accessible to them so they don’t have to work harder than they already have to for it!

Here is a link to some really genuinely good tasting lactation cookies that I used to help boost my supply, for any mamas in need of a boost!

Hang in there mamas! If breastfeeding your lip/tongue tied baby is your goal, don’t give up. You aren’t alone in this and you can do it!

Ember Knight- A Birth Story

As my 39th week kicked off with no signs of labor, my doctor decided the risks of induction outweighed the risks of waiting her out. I had a history with my first daughter of shoulder dystocia, macrosomia, and postpartum hemorrhage. So we packed our bags, tucked Ellie in bed at Grandma’s house and headed to the hospital at midnight for our second induction.

We had two or three scheduling complications. We were send home from our first induction because I was so sick and weak with a cold and sinus infection that they didn’t want to start the induction process. Three days later we went in again and they informed us that they had scheduled us for the precious night, and now we would have to wait and see if one of my doctors would be available to come in for an induction tonight. After a stressful wait in the lobby they finally told us we would be admitted, and wouldn’t be leaving the hospital without a baby again!

We spent 5 hours in a small triage room while the pitocin did its thing. My lovely husband got a nap in, while I mostly watched tv and attempted sleep over and over. The contractions were tight and uncomfortable but for the most part not painful. I finally drifted off around 5:45 a.m. to be rudely awoken by my water breaking at about 6:05 a.m.

Finally, it was time to make the move to our real labor room! Almost instantly after my water broke I was in real-deal pain! The doctors broke my water in my first labor, and I already had an epidural at that point! So this severe pain was new to me! I was ready for an epidural after about an hour of this, but of course it was time for a hospital shift change and I would have to wait another hour.

The epidural this time around brought some relief, but didn’t take on the left side of my body. I felt SO much pressure and pain compared to feeling nothing during my first labor.

They came in to check my dilation at noon and I was only at a 5. I felt really discouraged at that point, and thought that it was going to be a long, long day.

They continually came in to adjust my epidural as I was informing them (very calmly I’m sure) that it was not doing its job. 😂 I wasn’t sure why this hour was SO intense!

Around 1 o’clock I started feeling IMMENSE pressure and like I needed to push. They checked and sure enough I was at a 10. Now the intensity of that last hour made sense! They told me for what was probably about 20 minutes, but felt like two hours, that my doctor was on her way. 🙄 But I needed to push, like now. We gave all our family the call that it was time to head to the hospital!

When the doctor finally came in I was feeling it big time and ready to push!

This is where I felt an advantage over my first delivery. Last time, they had to tell me when to push because I couldn’t feel the contractions coming at all! This time, being able to feel it sped my process along as I was much more aware of what was happening with my body. It may have been more painful but if I had to do it again, I would choose this labor experience over my first one.

I was able to actually feel the moment I gave birth to her this time and immediately pull her up to me for skin to skin. There’s no feeling in the world like holding your baby for that first time and hearing that big cry that means they are healthy.

After about 20 minutes Ember was all cleaned up and we brought Ellie in to meet her. Ellie was tired from skipping her nap, and a little confused. But she was still really happy to see her “baby sissy.”

Ember was born at 2:10 p.m. weighing 9 lbs, and was 22 inches long. We got another big, healthy girl!

It all started to come back to me- the breastfeeding latching, spit up, swaddling, and newborn diapers.

I didn’t sleep much in our one night stay there, mostly because she kept spitting up/ choking on amniotic fluid. I didn’t know anything about this, but they told me it’s really common for babies who were born quicker. Less time in the birth canal=less time for them to get rid of the fluid. This was the first thing that told me, “Hey! This baby is going to come with a totally new set of problems you didn’t know about the first time around!”

24 hours after she was born, we got the clean bill of health to go home!

I couldn’t be happier thinking back on these two days we spent bringing Ember into the world. ❤️

Ellie-21 Months~Ember 2 weeks~Mama-Tired

Wow. The last two weeks have been a total whirlwind! But this is definitely a time of life I never want to forget!

Ellie-

What can I say about this girl? She has adjusted to being a big sister like a CHAMP! I am blown away by her, to be honest.

I was so worried that she would be jealous or rough with the baby. She has been a super generous helper and so gentle with baby sissy. She acts like her little sister has always been a part of her family and I’m so proud of the big girl she’s becoming.

She loves to give baby sissy toys and headbands and bring me diapers and wipes, and even water while I’m breastfeeding! Every night she asks to say night-night to baby sissy, and every morning she wakes up and asks where she is. I can’t believe the capacity for change and love Ellie has at such a young age. ❤️

Ember-

Ember has been a little dream baby! She is so mellow and cuddly! She is a little champion sleeper. At two weeks old she is still sleeping through the night. (Although I rouse her once in the middle of the night to feed her- per doctor’s instruction.)

The only problem we have is that she has a lip and tongue tie like her big sister, which is making breastfeeding a little harder. For a while, I could only get her to take pumped bottles. With lots of patience, we have gotten to a point where she can latch every time. It has been slightly exhausting, because I feel constantly worried that she wasn’t eating well enough. Tomorrow we have a consultation with the doctor who corrected Ellie’s lip tie, and we will decide if Ember’s needs corrected as well.

After a difficult pregnancy and being so sick during labor, I’m still just over the moon that she is here with us- happy and healthy.

Mama-

I am blown away by how quickly my body has recovered the second time around. The labor process may have been more difficult this time, but the recovery has been SO much smoother. My body seems to just remember how to heal. The pain and soreness wore off in a matter of days this time instead of weeks.

I am mentally recovering a little slower than physically. Even though I generally feel happy and blessed to have these two beautiful girls, the postpartum hormones have made me more emotional than I’d like to be. It’s usually happy tears I’m crying, but I still wish I wasn’t this emotional! I can tell already that life with two under two will be difficult. However, so far those super stressful “they both need me at the same time” moments that I thought would happen all the time have been pretty few and far between.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have these two. Overall, this time period has been filled with lots of happiness, love and cuddles. What more can you hope for with a newborn in the house?

Cosleeping and Codependence: When does it become a problem?

I can honestly say that when it came to the thought of sleep training my sweet little girl, theres pretty much nothing on earth I would rather do less. 

From the first night she was born I have only allowed myself to close my eyes for the night after watching her chest moving up and down right next to me and listening to her steady inhales and exhales. Thus the comfort of cosleeping begins to go both ways. Not only does your baby grow dependent on you being that near, but you become dependent on them. 

Just the thought of sending her to her own crib in her own room was enough to send me spiraling. She’s not big enough for that yet! She’s my little baby girl! Not to mention, I genuinely enjoyed the time I spent nursing her to sleep every night. I know this is a bad habit when it comes to sleep but it never seemed to be a problem before. She went through stages where she actually slept extremely well in her early months. But gradually, things started to change. At first I chalked up the night wakings for feedings to a growth spurt, until it was a couple months later and it was still happening. Things had gotten so bad two weeks ago that I finally decided it was too much. I could barely function anymore. I had no idea what to do. Until I had the craziest thought, “What if co-sleeping is not better for her anymore, but it’s holding her back from getting the full night of sleep she needs?”

Well folks, it turns out I was the problem. I had not given her the environment or tools she needed to learn how to sleep better. •My next article is an in depth look at our sleep-training experience.• 

Neither of us were happy and I dreaded going to sleep every night. 

The problem with cosleeping is not just the codependence.  If you can check off any of the items on this list- then cosleeping has officially reached its problematic stage in your life and needs to be addressed. 

  1. Your baby is not getting the amount of sleep they need. Repeated night wakings from the noises or movements you make could be unnecessarily waking baby all night. 
  2. YOU aren’t getting the sleep you need. You can’t function correctly during the day because you’re missing the proper amount of sleep night after night.
  3. You worry about the safety of cosleeping. You spend night after night curled in an uncomfortable position while barely ever getting into a deep sleep so that you can be aware of whether the baby is moving in the bed. You have to field the pillows and blankets away from them!
  4. Nighttime feedings have become habit and not necessity. In the beginning, many moms cosleep for the convenience factor of the night feedings. But if your babe has outgrown the actual need for these feedings (most people say by 6 months old) they may only be eating because they wake up and see you. The only way to avoid this is to end the cosleeping.
  5. You begin to feel in any way unhappy with cosleeping. No one wants an unhappy, resentful mama around. If you are getting frustrated and miserable with the situation, don’t hesitate- things need to change.

    -Have you decided you need to make a change? My next article will chronicle the experience we had with sleep-training my codependent/breastfed/co-sleeper.