Lip & Tongue Tie Revision: What To Expect After Baby’s Frenectomy (W/Photos) & Exercises To Do At Home
Why Won’t My Baby Nurse?
When my baby hit 4 weeks, I began recognizing a new habit–refusal to nurse while awake. At first, it was only occasionally but it grew into complete refusal to breastfeed (or bottle feed). This being my third breastfed baby, I thought nothing of it. I have a strong overactive letdown, so I just figured she was mad at me for it.
Within just a few weeks, she completely resisted the breast and the scale started worrying me. I would try (constantly) to get her to nurse/take a bottle, and she wouldn’t if she was awake. By 8 weeks of age, she loathed eating and I became very emotionally drained (and devastated). I would have to get her into a deep sleep to get her to eat, and naps were less frequent with her changing age.
Finally, I broke down and met with a lactation consultant (who was not so helpful). She told me that my baby was just on a “Nursing Strike”, so I just needed to relax, pump like a crazy lady, and be patient, because it would end in a week or so. It didn’t end and by 10 weeks, and it was clear that I needed help.
I asked around and came across an amazing lactation consultant who met with me for 3.5 hours on our first visit to assess the situation. She got my baby girl to latch in seconds using a nipple shield–not ideal, but I was desperate. After the (long..because of the nipple shield) feeding, the IBCLC looked my baby over to get to the root of the issue–she discovered my baby’s lip tie and tongue tie.
What Does A Lip Tie Look Like?
This is a photo of my baby’s lip tie. You can see that is restricts the upper lip from flanging out like it’s supposed to, creating a poor suction while nursing or bottle feeding.
What Does A Tongue Tie Look Like?
This is a photo of my baby’s tongue tie. It was hard to see initially, but the LC was able to position the tongue, showing us the severity of this tongue tie (there were two). A tongue tie like this is the reason my daughter had issues with choking and gasping for air. A tongue tie makes it very difficult to swallow the way a nursing baby should be swallowing.
Tongue-Tie & Lip-Tie Symptoms
Discovering a lip and/or tongue tie in your baby can be a long (and emotionally draining) process, since they are normally diagnosed when baby shows symptoms. These symptoms may include:
- Pain while nursing
- Sore/Cracked Nipples–this cream saved me!
- Thrush (that keeps appearing)
- White Line on Tips of Nipples (flattened nipples at the end of feeding)
- Low Milk Supply– be sure to pump to maintain supply!
- Overactive Letdown
- Poor Latch
- Inability to Take Bottle
- Poor Weight Gain
- Milk Blister on Tip Of Baby’s Upper Lip (that will occasionally fall off, then reappear)
- Acid Refluc
- Refusing to Nurse
- Pushing Away From Breast
- Screaming at Breast
- Messy Eater
- Popping on/off Breast–this nipple shield helped us
- Popping/Clicking Sounds
- Choking and Gulping Noises
Lip Tie & Tongue Tie Revision: Laser Surgery, All The Way!
There are two different ways this revision is done: with scissors or with a laser. The good thing about a tongue tie laser surgery is that you get a cleaner cut, less painful, and quicker to heal. The procedure can be done in some dental offices, but I chose a specialist– Pediatric ENT, Dr. Lui. He was phenomenal, and his staff was extremely friendly and helpful. I also scheduled an appointment with a lactation consultant, who stood by me the whole time.
What To Expect After Tongue Tie Revision
Immediately following the 10 minute procedure, my baby was extremely fussy. She refused to nurse while in the office (nothing new for us since she was awake crying), but the lactation consultant gave me some tips on what to do if she continued to refuse to nurse: syringe feedings and making breastmilk cubes in the freezer for pain relief. My baby did bleed some, but it was minimal and had stopped completely by 15 minutes post-procedure.
Frenectomy Healing White–Is That Normal?
2 days after my baby’s procedure, I noticed her frenulum was white. I called her doctor immediately, worried that it was infected, only to find that white is good! It is completely normal for your baby’s frenulum to appear white or green while it is healing, as long as there is no discharge. You also want to make sure that it is not getting red–it will naturally be pretty irritated for a good week or so, but the red shouldn’t be growing around the wound.
Lip Tie & Tongue Tie Exercises–Don’t Skip These!!!
The most notable thing I took from my visit with Dr. Lui was the importance of doing specific “movement” and “lift” mouth exercises for seceral weeks following the lip tie and tongue tie revisions. **Note: do not start these exercises until 24 hours after the procedure.
Movement Exercises (6-8 times per day)
- Cheek Pull
- hook finger inside the cheeks and gently pull apart
- Trace the Gums
- trace finger around gum line–top and bottom
- Extension of the Tongue
- touch upper lip and drag finger downward, causing baby to open mouth. Continue to repeat this until baby sticks tongue out. If baby doesn’t extend tongue, gently touch the tip of the tongue,
Lifts (4 times per day)
- Tongue Lifts
- Place both fingers below tongue, on either side of the wound and lift the tongue towards the roof of baby’s mouth. Hold for 3 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
- Lip Lifts
- Using fingers placed on either side of wound, flip the upper lift towards the nose. Hold for 3 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
This is a really good video to help with post-procedure sucking.