Everyone is seeing a lot of my breasts these days. The firefighter, with whom we’ve always used correct anatomical terms, started referring to them as milkerators. Given the amount they’re being used (by the baby duck) and the frequency that other people (medical & other professionals) are examining them, it isn’t any wonder he’s referring to them using a term that sounds vaguely mechanical and robotic.
There was never any doubt in my mind that we needed to do something about baby duck’s breastfeeding challenges. And thankfully, after having both lip ties and his tongue tie released, he’s doing a lot less chomping.
Last Tuesday we were seen by an ENT at CHEO for the lip and tongue ties. I had been warned that some of the doctor’s are fantastic but that we might run into challenges with others whose approach to dealing with ties and their impact on breastfeeding is conservative and hands-off. The doctor we saw was lovely and kind but even acknowledged that she didn’t know a lot about breastfeeding.
There is no argument within the medical community that breastfeeding is best for babies and yet the majority of medical professionals seem to have limited knowledge about breastfeeding and how to help breastfeeding mothers. She agreed that he has a Class IV lip tie (it wraps around to his palate) and then let us know that they don’t clip them at CHEO (only tongue ties). That would have been helpful to know before our appointment. Irrespective of the severity (his is the most severe kind) she didn’t recommend having it clipped because in her opinion it likely wasn’t impacting nursing.
She agreed he did have a posterior tongue tie but that she wouldn’t clip it because it wasn’t significant and likely wasn’t the cause of our breastfeeding difficulties.
So my baby is chomping at my breasts. He’s nursing constantly, getting frustrated at all the work he’s doing, is destroying my nipples, flattening my nipples, clicking when he nurses (the sound is made when his mouth breaks the seal when he’s eating), and her recommendation is that he needs more coordination.
Is it any wonder that women give up on breastfeeding?
It isn’t supposed to be painful. It isn’t supposed to take hours and hours everyday. And when it does there is a problem and there are countless solutions. In our case reducing the impact of baby duck’s physiological restrictions (the two lip ties and tongue ties) was, to us, the obvious solution.
The next day we found ourselves at a pediatric dentist’s office to have the lip ties and tongue tie released by laser. Yes it’s as unpleasant as it sounds. Unlike a traditional ‘clip’ the laser immediately cauterizes the area, which means there isn’t a lot of blood and there is a much reduced likelihood of infection. There is however a howling baby who doesn’t appreciate being restrained or the pain in his mouth.
The dentist and his staff were fantastic. They were kind and incredibly empathetic to all the pain and problems I’ve had nursing baby duck since he was born. We talked about the symptoms and the dentist took the time to explain, after his exam, how the different ties impact on nursing, speech, and oral development. I appreciated how he explained that having the ties released isn’t a quick fix; baby duck needs to learn to re-latch and there will still be pain and discomfort as we figure things out. I also liked that his recommendations for after the procedures were 48 hours of as much skin to skin as possible to help my baby boy feel safe and secure and to allow him to nurse as much as possible. Being told to do nothing but cuddle my baby for two days: works for me!
There was a lot of frantic crying after the procedure and it lasted until about halfway through the drive home. He nursed about an hour and a half after we left the dentists and then spent the rest of the day curled on my chest. It was definitely our most restless night since his birth; he was up every 1.5 to 2 hours to nurse and was harder than usual to settle. He’s been cluster feeding fairly consistently since then and does not appreciate the stretching exercises I have to do before each feed to prevent the tissue from re-attaching. However I started noticing reduced pain after 72 hours and he’s already able to open his mouth a lot wider and flange his bottom lip out, which makes getting a good latch a lot easier. We still seem to do nothing but nurse but I’m realizing that has more to do with him comforting himself right now than anything else