Little baby girl being breastfeeded

When you're all tied up, getting the right help for tongue and lip ties.

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If you recently had or will have your first child and plan to breastfeed, you need to know a little bit about the potential for tongue ties. It’s a somewhat-complicated topic, although this article does a good job summarizing it.

In short: normal development of a fetus includes “frenum” growth. Frenums are tiny bits of tissue that attach the tongue to the floor of the lower jaw. In the case of some babies, this tissue is too tight; as a result, they can’t move their tongues properly. As a result, it’s hard for them to take a bottle, breastfeed, or even have a pacifier. So essentially, if tongue/lip movement is restricted, it’s called “tied.”

There are a number of broad medical myths around tongue and lip ties — some detailed here — but in reality it’s something you want to get looked at and taken care of if necessary. It can make breastfeeding much harder and creates uncomfortable, less-than-nourishing situations for the baby.

There are different lists out there about how to check for tongue and lip tie, but here’s what I recommend to my clients:

  • Blister on upper lip
  • Shallow latch or chomping on nipple
  • Flutter like sucking
  • Severe nerve pain that shoots up your breast the breast
  • Trouble securing a latch or keeping suction
  • Blanching of the nipple
  • Gassy baby from more air transfer

If you see these symptoms, consider talking to a Lactation Consultant or your pediatrician.

In Massachusetts / Boston area, there are two doctors who will do laser removal of tongue and lip ties. Laser removal is typically a little bit better; it doesn’t require anesthesia and there’s less bleeding and/or potential nerve damage. You read a bit about the services Dr. Rosenbury offers on her website or Dr. Kaplan on his website. You aren’t allowed to sit in while your baby has the procedure, they ask you go for a walk and have your cell available. I’ve personally meet Dr. Rosenbury, she is lovely and all of my clients that have worked with her have had a wonderful experience. If you’d like to contact one of them:

Dr. Fawn Rosenbury, DMD FAGD
Lexington Smile Studio
922 Waltham St, Suite 202
Lexington, MA 02421

Dr. Martin Kaplan, DMD
Kid Care Dental P.C.
1613 Central Street
Stoughton, MA 02072

If you have any additional questions about breastfeeding or tongue/lip ties, let me know. I’ve seen it in over a dozen babies and can always help get you the right resources.

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