Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lip Ties and Tongue Ties

Four months ago, I had never heard of a lip tie or a tongue tie. I knew that I had trouble nursing, but all of my meetings and research simply pointed to a colicky baby and a strong letdown. I scoured the entire internet, talked with lots of ladies, and kept pushing forward.

Then one day while Piper was napping (she was 9 months old and no longer nursing), I was reading through some recent research a friend had posted on lip ties and tongue ties. I always skipped these posts before, because my baby didn't have one. While reading through this article, something jumped inside of me. Call it Mother's Intuition or the Holy Spirit, but I knew at that moment. I said out loud "Piper has this!". I looked through pictures and read more until Piper woke up. I checked her mouth. This is what I saw...
Everything in me broke at that moment. All of the pain, disappointment, and failure flooded me again. I burst into tears. Why didn't I know!? Why had no one told me? If I would have known and fixed it, could she still be nursing? Was she in pain? What now?

I called our lactation consultant and went in to see her. She confirmed it, and apologized for not noticing earlier. She couldn't have, she didn't know either. She discovered that Piper also had a slight posterior tongue tie too, meaning that her tongue was attached a little too tightly and far forward. She referred me to a dentist who does a laser procedure to release both. My mentality was "do it now, fix it now". I probably felt this way out of guilt and regret too, just for not knowing.

I had also heard that tongue ties and lip ties can cause trouble for child in nursing, eating, speaking, and they can contribute to sleep apnea and behavioral disorders. I wasn't about to risk my child developing ADHD because of a lip tie. We scheduled with the dentist as soon as possible.

When the day came, I did my best not to cry. I didn't know what to expect- holding her down for the laser procedure? Hurting her? Not doing it? The dentist confirmed it and said that he could do the procedure, but it was elective. He knew how to release the ties, but he had no knowledge of lip ties or tongue ties and could no diagnose them or give us any information of what would happen if we didn't do it. He simply said "if you want it, I can do it". We agreed to move forward anyway. And then came the kicker- because she was so much older and stronger, she would need to be sedated for the procedure. So we left our information and waited for a call from the office to schedule us when their anesthesiologist would be in.

You see, when a tongue tie or lip tie is found within the first days or weeks of a baby's life, it can be snipped quickly without any medicine and little pain. May times, a midwife or someone at the hospital can do it. Once they get bigger and can fight it, it becomes dangerous and difficult.

The doctor called us a few weeks before the appointment to answer questions and talk about the procedure. There are still risks to sedation, and I wasn't really comfortable with my 18lb infant undergoing anesthesia.  At that moment I also found out that she was not allowed to eat ANYTHING for 6 hours prior to her appointment. If you know my child, you know she can't NOT eat. This changed my mind. I didn't think it was worth it. The thought of holding her off from any form of food until 12:30pm.... that sounds like pure torture for both of us. She can still pucker her lips well, we don't have nursing issues, she eats and babbles like any other baby. she clicks and sticks out her tongue. I talked with Daniel.

A few days before our appointment, I called and cancelled it. Was I failing as a Mom again? It didn't feel right to go through with it right now. I then ran into our lactation consultant and told her about our decision. She reassured me that she wouldn't do it on a 1-year-old either- that it was a bad age. She said as a newborn or an older child it would be easier. We decided to wait until Piper is older so we can explain to her why she can't eat before and why we have to do it (if we do!). Daniel was never sure of the procedure in the first place, wondering if the ties would really affect her in the future. I was too cloudy-minded and guilt-ridden and just wanted to fix the "problem" ASAP without really thinking much about it.

We will wait to see if the lip tie and tongue tie affect her further. The lip tie is pretty severely attached, so we are expecting orthodontic issues at the least. As she begins to talk, we will watch her closely. I'm thinking in another year or two we will know if the procedure needs to be done (she is 1 year old now).

This is simply our story and our decision- I am not giving an medical advice here. I have many friends who went through with the procedure and are so glad they did. Many of these women also still breastfeed- which was a huge factor in us NOT releasing it right now (I don't breastfeed anymore). I hope this gives you some insight into making your decision and doing what is best for your family.

And when you have a newborn, PLEASE see a lactation consultant and get their tongue and lips checked! In the long run, it could save you a ton of pain and suffering later on!


  1. I am sooo glad u blogged about this my son (2 years old) also has a gap in his front teeth like little pips! It was bigger when he was younger..and i also had a hard time breastfeeding. We decided to wait until he is older to do anything about it. His speech is amazing so i wouldnt worry too much about it.! Glad u did what u felt was best!"

  2. Aubrey, we discovered Grayson was lip tied at about a year. I couldn't believe that no one had noticed at my Le Leche Groups I went to every month. I even had someone look in his mouth as well. He was super colicky, didn't sleep well and he wasn't gaining weight well. Like you, I ended up supplementing, but was able to hold onto breastfeeding until almost 10 months old. I felt defeated when the day came, because I had tried everything in the book to keep on breastfeeding. He could just get his food faster from a bottle then me and he was a growing boy.
    Once we found out he had a lip tie just as the above picture, I was devastated and felt those rush of emotions all over again. Aaron and I read countless articles and then came across one that talked about lip ties often splitting on their own depending how active your child. It was only about 2 months later that Grayson fell pretty hard on his mouth and ripped his lip tie a little. Then about another month later he was trying to climb something and slipped brushing his top lip and completely splitting it apart. His smile was so different, and I could see all his top teeth clearly and his smile widened. I couldn't believe the article was correct, and I relieved to be able to tell other parents our story. It may not happen to every lip tied child, but its possible.