A Mother’s Journey with Tongue Ties

A Mother’s Journey with Tongue Ties

If you’ve followed my blog for long, you’ll know that tongue & lip ties and nursing challenges are a passion of mine, especially after having experienced challenges with all of these factors with several of my own children. I’ve also been in contact with many moms who are struggling with nursing issues or fussy babies, and so many times there is a connection to either a tongue or lip tie (or both!). Recently, a mom shared her story in a Facebook Group for Moms that I’m part of. Her story touches on so many of the factors that I have seen and/or experienced, that I contacted her and asked for her permission to share her post with you all. I am so grateful, as Tanisha covers many factors to consider in her story, and I think it will be beneficial for many moms who might be struggling. If you are struggling with nursing issues, I really want to encourage you that you aren’t alone, and that there are answers out there!! And if you resonate with this story, I would love to hear about your experiences! It can help other moms when they can hear first-hand what worked for others in similar situations.

~Kelsey

Now on to our guest post, written earlier this year by Tanisha Gingerich:

**Shared by the author’s permission**

I thought I’d make a post for whoever it might concern, about our journey so far with tongue and lip ties. They are becoming increasingly common it seems, and I thought sharing my experience might be a good way to bring awareness so that any other moms going thru something similar can benefit from (or add to) what I’ve been learning.

A week post partum, I was scabbed from nursing, and in a lot of pain every time I fed Micoma. She was gaining well, so we probably could have made it work (a lactation consultant can help you and baby work past a multitude of feeding problems), but I knew from experience that although I could “make it work,” my milk supply was going to tank around 4-6 months. Ties can also cause speech, dental, and sleep issues down the road, along with a host of other problems.

So in the interest of short-term pain for the long-term good, I took Micoma in at a week old for a consultation and ended up getting her lip and tongue ties lasered right away so we could begin the healing and retraining process as soon as possible before bad nursing habits were formed.

I cried and prayed over her before they did the 3 minute procedure, and sobbed compulsively while they swaddled her and used a laser to cut the ties open. The woman doing the procedure was a mom too, and was so compassionate and kind with Micoma. Then they left us alone in a cozy room to nurse, and I heaved more sobs as I comforted my baby. Being able to hold and nurse her was probably just as healing for me as it was for her.

Her latch was instantly better. Over the next few days I had to continually remind myself of the long term good, as I did stretches on her wounds. To my relief, the stretches were done in under 30 seconds, and Micoma always recovered quickly… I soon realized she was screaming louder over getting her diaper changed than she was over the oral invasion, so that made me feel better. I told her all the time how brave she was, and gave her every comfort to guide her through the rough patch.

That first week dragged on for me. I hated having to keep stretches in my mind every 4-6 hours even thru the night—got kind of sick with dread thinking about it. I kept Micoma on Tylenol the first 2 days, and again on day 4 when there was a flare up of discomfort. Other than that though, she continued to eat and sleep very normally (not everyone has it so easy, some babies will hardly eat for a day or two, and cry all the time. Thankfully Micoma nursed for comfort, and seemed to tolerate gracefully any discomfort she was feeling). At one week we had a follow up appointment and they said everything was healing well and there was no reattachment. I was so relieved.

By the second week all was routine, and the scars were nearly healed up. Sometimes she wouldn’t even wake up when I did the stretches so I knew they weren’t painful. Currently we have just passed the 3 week mark, which means I can de-escalate the stretches rapidly and they will disappear in a few days. Hooray! One hurdle over. Now on to the next. I had a lactation consultant come at week 3, to help me teach Micoma new nursing/sucking habits. I learned so much!

First of all, babies begin practicing how to suck from week 12 in utero. This is how they build the oral strength they need for nursing. Unfortunately, when a part of their tongue is tied down, they are unable to fully lift and tone those muscles.  When they are born and begin nursing, the restrictions to their lip and or/tongue, make it hard or impossible for them to latch correctly or suck efficiently. As a result, nursing is laborious for them. You may hear a “clicking” noise or notice milk dribbling out the sides of their mouth, these are telltale signs. They frequently fall asleep while nursing, just from the strain it, and are unable to properly empty the breast. This can obviously cause low-weight issues, milk supply issues, and severe frustration to the baby. The baby will often resort to chomping or some other measure in an attempt to get milk, resulting it a lot of discomfort or pain for the mom.

But even after ties are released, there is still some work to do. Baby’s latch will probably be better right away, but you’ll need to help hertone her oral muscles and relearn how to suck correctly with the new range of motion in her mouth. I was given a series of simple tongue exercises to do with Micoma every day… they are more like games, and activate her reflexes to get her tongue moving, especially in the places she’s not used to lifting it.

Now, to back up a bit, there are two kinds of ties—lip ties and tongue ties. I’ve also heard of buchal ties (cheeks) but know very little about them at this point. A lip tie is easiest to spot (example of one in comments) and if a lip tie is present, a tongue tie is almost always present too—they tend to go hand in hand. Keep in mind that some care providers are not trained to look for *posterior* tongue ties (these are in the back of the mouth and not as obvious as anterior ones), so those often get missed. Ties vary in severity (where they are attached and how drastically they are affecting function of the lip/tongue. Sometimes it may be negligible).

Next thing I learned, tongue tied babies are notoriously “tight.” The tongue sits at the very top of the spine, and if there are restrictions in the tongue, you will see restrictions all the way down through the body. Sure enough, Micoma is very tight in her shoulder/neck area, has over compensated for it in her lower back, and has tight hips. Once again, I was given a series of simple rhythmic motions and stretches to loosen those areas up and bring everything into alignment. She has a bit of a “C” shape curve when she lies down, that’s another common sign of tongue-tie related tightness. (Pic in comments) I wish I would have known this with my oldest daughter Verona. She was incredibly C-shaped, and these stretches would have loosened up her uncomfortably tight muscles.

Looking back, both of my children before Micoma had ties of some kind. I always had to use a nipple shield with Verona, and I remember Benny getting so angry when I nursed him. My supply going down around 4 months was another telltale sign. Both children despised tummy time, which was most likely because of how tight they were in their neck and lower back. I suspect “ties” is some of why they slept so poorly and aggravated colic symptoms early on… In-efficient nursing brings more air into the stomach and causes gas discomfort/excessive spitting up. And in a very strange twist of fate, if the tongue cannot reach up to the top of the pallet and rest there while sleeping, the top of the mouth becomes domed, crowding teeth and restricting airway. This can lead to mouth breathing, sleep apnea, and dental issues.

Verona’s lip tie comes all the way down between her teeth, which is why she has a gap between her front teeth. Neither of the children seem to be having difficulty eating, speaking, or maintaining good dental hygiene and structure other than that. So I’ll just keep an eye on them, and only resort to doing anything about theirs at this point if I see it’s going to cause them major problems down the road. But I do grieve the suffering we all went thru with months of screaming colicky baby, and the eventual loss of breastfeeding bond. That pain far surpasses whatever me and Micoma went through the last month in laser-correction and recovery.

So for that reason, I would support moms in pursuing tie-releases if you feel it would be beneficial for your baby. As with everything child-related, there is controversy surrounding the issue—whether ties are really a thing, whether they’re a big deal, clipping or lasering, stretches or no stretches. In my case, I saw enough consequences in my last 2 children that I was willing to believe ties affect quality of life enough to warrant a minor surgery. Lasering has a lower rate of re-attachment and requires no stitches, so I went that route. And the stretches I did because Micoma tolerated them well and I was determined not to let the fibers re-attach while they were healing… and I grilled my caretaker about whether it was necessary, and she says she does see a fairly high rate of reattachment if stretches are not done. Albeit, I did the bare minimum I thought I could be get by with, and with good results. That was my story, you get to write your own. Decide what’s best for your child, whether that’s therapy to work past a tie, or a surgery to correct it, or whatever and don’t let people throw a lot of shame or fear onto you for it.

Currently I am pumping a few times a day and using an SNS (supplemental nursing system) several times a day to stimulate my supply and simultaneously get Micoma the extra food she sometimes can’t get herself. I’ll keep working with Micoma’s body and tongue to get everything loosened up and toned… hopefully within a month we’ll be at a place where she can keep my supply up on her own. In the mean time we’re not goning to go many places this month, just stay home and focus on the task at hand.

Many people take their children to chiropractors pre and/or post tie release for body work. It helps with nursing if your baby is aligned properly. For the time being, since I have bodywork I can do at home with her, I am skipping that… see if I can get by without it. Cranial Sacral therapy is another thing highly recommended… I don’t know, it could possibly be a legitimate thing with babies since their skulls are still un-fused and somewhat mobile, but I have heard of enough occultist ties connected to this practice done in adults that I plan to avoid it all together.

This post was not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. It’s my personal story and some things I learned along the way, left here for people to sift thru and take whatever is for them.

If, btw, you decide lasering is the right option for you (and you are local to central PA), I had a good experience with Dr. Katherman in York. Her office felt like such a warm and caring place to me, and she was on call at all hours if I had questions later. Also, do yourself a favor and hire a lactation consultant. You won’t regret it! Do a bit of research first and find one that people you know have had good experiences with (there are a few bad eggs out there). Again, I had a wonderful experience with the one I found, and I’ll link her website for reference.

Dr Katherman: https://www.cdepa.com

Jessica, Lactation Consultant: https://bornandfed.com

The cost to get two ties lasered was $750. I am going to turn it into my insurance sharing plan, but I do not know yet if they will cover it. The lactation consultant fee for an hour and a half session was $175. So it is a good chunk of change. But when compared to the potential costs of not doing it, it is a very reasonable investment.

I hope that’s everything. My mind is still kind of whirling from all the things I’m learning, so this was my way of processing it. Hoping it will be helpful to someone else.

P.S. Out of curiosity, I asked both the doctor and lactation consultant if ties have become more common recently or if they’re just being diagnosed more, so we’re more aware of them. They both said ties are becoming increasingly common. I don’t think even my mom’s generation would have seen very many, so this seems to be a rapidly developing problem. Presumably, Western diet and lifestyle as well as the declining quality of foods (grown from nutrient-depleted soils) plays a role. There seems to be evidence to support that lack of folate and other B vitamins in the early stages of embryonic development contributes to ties forming—or the presence of the synthetic B vitamin folic acid commonly in prenatals and fortified foods. And others say there are indications that genetic mutations (the MTHFR gene) play a role. But no definitive studies have been done, that I know of. Everything is speculation at this point. Someone gave me two articles so I’m linking them below. My midwife gave me some resources to dig into and I’m hoping to do more research to see if this plague is avoidable.

Connection to MTHFR gene: https://www.checkupnewsroom.com/a-pediatricians-goes-in…/

Connection to regular folic acid intake: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31835174/

I maintain a decently healthy diet and take quality supplements including methylated B vitamins so it’s hard to believe that was the cause of all 3 children having ties. Except that I was under exponential stress the past few years, and as I understand it B vitamins are created in the gut… if you have bad gut health or are under stress, B vitamins do not form well. So that could be a factor. Like I said, I’m going to keep digging and see what answers I can find.

Preparing for Postpartum Recovery

Preparing for Postpartum Recovery

The first few hours, days and weeks after having a baby are special times to treasure as you recover from birth, transition to mothering baby from the outside, and spend time bonding and adjusting. Being adequately prepared ahead of time can make a key difference in helping postpartum to flow smoothly and successfully. Here are a few tips to consider as you prepare and plan for AFTER baby arrives. Remember that adequate rest, low stress, nourishing food, good support and planning ahead will help you to heal and promote a better overall experience for baby’s first few weeks. It’s important for your physical & mental health to take recovery seriously, and provide your body with the things it needs to continue nourishing a baby while recovering from the demands of pregnancy & birth. You won’t regret being adequately prepared!

Before the Birth:

  • Consider your support system. Do you have a close friend or family member that would be willing to be a resource to answer questions, let you talk with when you’re feeling low emotionally, or just need a listening ear? Is there someone you can trust and feel comfortable with who could come into your home to help care for the household (especially if there are other children) for a few days or weeks so that you can adequately rest and recover? Is Daddy able to take some extended time off of work? How does support look to you? Do you have some babysitting options?
  • Meal Planning: consider having some wholesome family favorites stocked in the freezer so you don’t need to think about cooking. Does your church or support group have a plan for after-baby meals? Do you need to reach out to someone to coordinate this? Would you have a friend willing to start a “meal train” after your birth? And just a note to Gentle Delivery clients: if an online “meal train” is something that would bless you, your midwife is very glad to start this after your baby arrives!
  • Consider stocking up on disposable plates, cups, silverware, etc. in order to simplify clean up and household chores.
  • Shopping (consider the below suggestions, and try to have these things together before your baby is due):

Immediate Postpartum (first hours after birth)have these things handy in a basket or box for immediately after delivery.

  • Newborn Diapers & Baby Wipes
  • Preferred first outfit for baby, along with a swaddle blanket, socks and hat.
  • “Adult Diapers” or Depends (or whatever type of pad you prefer for heavier postpartum bleeding).
  • Comfortable Nightgown or Pajamas that are nursing accessible and easily work for skin-to-skin contact with baby.
  • Ibuprofen and/or tincture (such as AfterEase or After-Pain Relief) to help with after-pains.
  • Pre-made “padsicles” or perineal ice-packs and/or an herbal healing spray such as this one from MotherLove.
  • Heating pad or rice sock to help with sore muscles and after-pains.
  • Rhoid Balm, Tucks or other soothing support for hemorrhoids.
  • Large Water bottle that is easy to use, to remind & encourage you to drink lots of fluids!
  • Nourishing foods, drinks and snacks (think bone broth, energy bites, juice, etc.).

First Few Days since you’ll be resting and nursing and taking it easy the first few days, you’ll want to consider having some of these items purchased ahead of time, and ready to be used during the initial few days after baby arrives, in addition to the items above (which you’ll continue using throughout the first few days/weeks).

  • Comfortable nursing-accessible clothes and nursing bras (remember that you may go through multiple changes of clothes due to leaking milk, bleeding and/or baby messes!). Comfort is key, since you will be resting and sleeping whenever possible.
  • Belly Support Binder (can use a Rebozo or scarf, or you can purchase something like Belly Bandit or MamaStrut).
  • Breastfeeding helps:
    • Disposable or reusable Nursing Pads for your bra.
    • Small flexible ice packs or Breast Soothies to relieve engorgement the first week.
    • If you have experienced challenges with milk supply, have supplements such as MaxiMilk or Legendairy products available to start once your milk begins to come in.
  • Stool Softener or Magnesium to help the first stools pass easier.
  • Pads/period underwear for a lighter flow (be sure to check out non-toxic options such as these JewelPads).
  • A journal or baby book to jot down thoughts and memories.
  • Something to read or do as you spend hours nursing your baby!

And finally, feel free to print/download and post this list of visitor guidelines to aid you in navigating the stress and joy of baby visits during those first days!

Tips for Boosting Your Milk Supply: Recipes & Supplements

Tips for Boosting Your Milk Supply: Recipes & Supplements

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As I write this, I’m sitting here nursing my fifth child who will be 7 weeks old tomorrow. My experience with nursing and milk supply has been different with each child, as you may know if you’ve read this blog over the years. All of my babies have had issues with tongue and lip-ties, some of which were quickly resolved, and others where that wasn’t the case. One nursed well and gained quickly, another nursed okay, but I had to be very careful as my supply would tank quickly if I was extra busy or exercised much. Both of my boys struggled for months, with both of them needing to be supplemented and then fully bottle-fed by around 4-6 months (you can read about their stories and some of the things I learned and experienced here and here). With both of them, the challenges of poor nursing/latch also resulted in really low supply on my part. Those days were so long & discouraging. If you’re in the position of facing lots of challenges with feeding your baby, I totally get you!

So in preparing for baby #5, I had no idea what to expect. I did know I wanted to be prepared for lots of challenges just in case. We were also planning to do a significant amount of traveling when baby was still very young, and I wanted to make sure to have things on hand to boost my supply if it was needed, as I’ve learned from experience that it is MUCH easier to encourage a robust milk supply if you don’t let it drop too far to begin with! Before baby Tirzah was born, I spent some time researching additional options to add to my list of things to help boost supply.

IMG_3347 (2)This experience has been different yet! The first few weeks found baby gaining really slowly (she lost a pound after birth, and took three weeks to regain it!), which of course had me worried after everything that happened with my previous baby. But around 3 weeks old, things began to shift, and her suck got stronger and she began to gain weight! By now, at 7 weeks, she is a healthy, chunky 11 pounds, which means she has put on 2 pounds in just over 2 weeks! I thought perhaps there might be some other moms out there looking for ways to increase and improve their milk supply, so I’m going to share some of my favorite suggestions…some of these I found helpful when I was exclusively pumping for baby #4, and they have gone on to be helpful this time around.

If you are needing to establish or boost supply, your first step is to nurse frequently!! Lots of skin-to-skin time, especially in those first weeks, really helps to establish that supply, as well as nursing whenever baby is interested and for however long (and make sure the don’t go longer than 3 hours during the night those first few weeks!). Next, remember to drink lots of fluids. I would keep a water bottle at my bedside so that I would drink throughout the night (along with a snack!), which I continued to do until I was confident that my supply was adequate. Throughout the day make sure to keep drinking large amounts, as it really helps your body as it manufactures milk for that little one! And don’t forget that your body needs lots of nourishing calories to feed a second person-remember that your baby is still depending upon you for all of his/her nutrition, and baby is now bigger (and growing rapidly!), so now is not the time to cut back or diet. You actually need an additional 500 calories than what you needed while pregnant!

Besides these three things, here are some other supplements that I have found really give my milk production a boost (and just a side note, these are NOT affiliate links, so I’m not benefiting in any way by suggesting these!):

Maxi-Milk by Mountain Meadow Herbs has been one of my favorite supplements over the years. I began taking it twice a day around day 3 postpartum this time, just to give my body a boost since baby was loosing weight and I wanted to get my milk supply off to a good start as it started coming in. This is the one supplement I have always kept on hand after each baby, and any time I feel my supply dropping, I start taking it, and can see a difference within 24 hours. It’s especially helpful during those days when baby has a growth spurt and wants to eat all the time, and you can feel your body struggling to keep up with baby’s demands!

Legendairy Prouducts offers several different supplements for helping build and maintain milk supply. I had heard about them in the past year, and had them recommended to me by other moms who had tried them. I knew I would be dealing with more stress and less sleep while traveling with such a young baby this time around, so I started adding the “Liquid Gold” supplements to my daily routine. I’m now trying the “Cash Cow”, and both seem to be helpful! I was especially intrigued by their formulas and the lack of fenugreek, as my babies tend to have very sensitive tummies, and have not always done well with the traditional high-fenugreek content of other supplements.

Moringa is a green super-food type supplement, that has been used for a variety of health reasons, but has a history of helping to encourage milk production. Check out the link to find out more about it! I take it each morning at breakfast.

Spirulina is similar to Moringa, and is recommended for boosting supply and the nutrition-density of mom’s milk. This is the first time I’ve tried taking it regularly for this purpose, but it’s one of those supplements that has so many benefits that it sure can’t hurt to add it to a new mom’s daily regimen! Once again, click on the link to find out more of it’s benefits.

When it comes to adding some nutrient-dense calories, AND keeping good, quick snacks on hand for a hungry (and busy!) nursing moms, these two recipes below are my favorites. They include such things as nutritional yeast, oatmeal (oatmeal is an old-time favorite to boost milk supply!), flax-meal, coconut oil, and other great ingredients to feed and nourish a new mom and baby. The first recipe is one that my mother-in-law perfected during the year I was trying desperately to increase my milk supply for my little guy who had so many nursing issues. They are super yummy while also having great ingredients. When I was exclusively pumping, I could see first-hand how these helped to keep my supply up! The second recipe is a variation of a granola bar that a friend brought to me after I had my third child-ever since then, I always make a big batch of these around the time baby is due, as it is a wonderful snack to have on hand for those first weeks of nursing round the clock (I keep one beside my bed for nighttime feedings during the first few weeks!).

Grandma Martin’s Lactation Cookies

1&1/2 sticks softened butter
4 TBSP coconut oil
1 & 1/2 cups organic sugar  (I use coconut sugar)
5 TBSP Brewers Yeast
3 TBSP ground flaxseed (golden tastes the best!)
2 eggs
2 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp EACH salt, baking powder and soda, cinnamon
1 TBSP ground Fennel seed
1tsp ground Fenugreek (I grind these 2 together in coffee grinder)
1 & 1/2 cups flour (for Gluten Free cookies use 1/2 cup each of brown rice flour & whole oat flour and 1/2 cup of another flour)
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup coconut
Chocolate chips or raisins as desired.

Roll into balls, place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. Makes 3 dozen. These freeze well, and taste delicious frozen!

Energy Bars/Balls

1 cup warmed honey

1 cup natural peanut butter (or almond butter)

½ cup oat bran (or oatmeal ground really fine)

1/2 cup golden flax meal

1 cup unsweetened coconut

1/3 cup seeds (sunflower, chia, etc.)

1 c. chopped nuts (I like to use a blend of mixed nuts, though just almonds or pecans work as well)

1/2 tsp Celtic or Himalayan Pink salt

2 + cups old fashioned oats (enough to make mixture thick enough to form balls or press)

1 cup chocolate chips

Mix all together and form into balls or press into a pan to form bars, refrigerate until firm. I like to cut these into bars and wrap them individually for a quick on-the-go snack.

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In closing, I’d love to hear about what has helped you to maintain a good milk supply for your little one(s)! If you try any of these supplements or recipes, let me know what your results are. Blessings as you nourish your baby today!