Recently, many babies are being diagnosed with lip and tongue tie. A tongue tie is considered a midline defect. My baby was diagnosed with one by a lactation consultant at the hospital and le leche league leader. I had already suspected he had one because he exhibited some of the signs such as painful breastfeeding, spitting up milk, high palate and limited tongue mobility. It is also prevalent with those with the MTHFR gene, which I knew I had and mostly passed on to my baby.
I did a lot of research and became a bit obsessed with it because we had a lot of feeding issues. I joined Facebook groups and read articles and research about it. I went to see an ENT – Dr. Dahl who specializes in tongue tie at 6 weeks. She has a beautiful office set up for breastfeeding comfort, but I did not feel comfortable having the procedure done because she looked at me nurse my son, but never looked in his mouth. She said he had a tie and she could snip it quickly. I did not feel ready to do it at that point and felt a bit pressured by her and hearing other babies get it done and cry, made me lose my cool and I couldn’t go through with it. I felt a bit like I was at a tongue tie factory and could not go through with it on my own, so I waited for another opinion.
I went and spoke to my pediatrician at our 2 month appointment and he said he did not notice any ties and it is a bit of a trend in the lactation consultant community but he was not the expert on the issue. He called in another doctor in the practice who also did not notice any ties. I still felt uneasy, as my lactation consultant said this is not their specialty, so they don’t always know what to look for. So I saw 2 more lactation consultants and did not mention I thought he had ties to see what they might say. They both thought he was tied. My son had very bad reflux, spitting up most of his food. Getting rid of this issue and improving our breastfeeding relationship was my main concern. By this point, I had heard Dr Siegel was the absolute best in the field and uses a laser as opposed to scissors. He has appointments in the city on Saturdays, and was booked up for 2 weeks when we called. He does not take insurance and charges $200 for consultation which can be applied to procedure, which costs $800.
At 10 weeks, we went to see Dr Siegel. We had to wait a very long time – we were not seen until 3:00pm for our 1:00 appointment. I almost left like 5 times, I was so nervous. My husband and I decided if Dr Siegel said he was tied, we would just do it, as I had been going back and forth with this issue for too long already. We went in to see the Dr, who had a very calm demeanor. He thoroughly inspected Oliver’s mouth and lip. He said he was tied and gave us a little bit of information on the pros and cons of the procedure. He left us alone for a few minutes to decide how we want to procedure. We decided to do it. Dr Siegel came back in and performed the procedure in less than a minute. The baby cried but because he was numbed, it was not nearly as bad as we imagined. We had to stretch his lip and tongue, you can see the video directions below.
The stretches were to be done for 3 weeks every time he ate. We did them well for two weeks and then I had to go back to work and could not to them as often. I will be honest, this part was not fun. The baby cried each time we did them. The first few nights were rough, because he did cry and feel pain and have trouble sleeping. The pain seemed to let up by the 2nd week and he was not as mad during the stretches. We saw a chiropractor for adjustments, which is supposed to help. After 2 weeks, we went back to Dr. Siegel to check for reattachment and was told that he looked good.
******UPDATE – At 6 Months******
We are now almost four months from when the release of tongue tie was performed. I will say, spit up has decreased, but not been totally eliminated. Feeding issues only got slightly better. Oliver was on medicine at 2 months for acid reflux and by four months was taken off of it. I will say now, he is a happy spitter- as it does not seem painful when he spits up, like it did before. Long term benefits of tongue tie release include speech delays and tooth decay, which we will never know if he would have had if we didn’t have his tie released. I will say that I feel happy that we did it just because I was so uneasy about the situation and the pain didn’t go past the first week for the baby. I do feel, as my pediatrician said, it is a bit of a trend in the breastfeeding community to say babies have it, but now that we are on the other side with no negative long-term effects, I would say if you think your baby has a tie, then your baby may benefit from the release.