Posts Tagged ‘reflux’

Tongue Tie: More than “Just” a Breastfeeding Problem

October 2, 2011

Important notice:  This blog and all its content and subsequent content is now at www.second9months.com.  Please visit there often for updates and new posts!

Let’s assume for a moment that breastfeeding is not important. That the oral development that breastfeeding provides is inconsequential. We will ignore, for just a moment, the fact that the act of breastfeeding helps develop the baby’s jaw, his facial muscles and properly shapes the palate to make room for his future teeth. We’ll ignore all of that so that I can give you a few other reasons to agree to have your baby’s frenulum clipped. Just in case the possibility of pain free, effective breastfeeding is not a good enough reason for you.

The reason I’m being just a bit sarcastic is because there are plenty of health care professionals out there who do not “believe in” freeing a tongue tied baby’s tongue “just” so he can breastfeed. “After all,” they say, “..you can just feed your baby pumped milk or formula from a bottle.”

Let’s say you are pondering that question yourself. And you don’t want to put your baby through even a second of pain—however minor—if you don’t have to. And, up until the moment your lactation consultant told you your baby is tongue tied, you’d never heard of such a thing. Why should your baby have a frenotomy (clipping the frenulum) when it’s only going to help with breastfeeding and breastfeeding is such a short time in your baby’s life? I’ll tell you why. Because freeing the tongue with a quick clip now may help your baby avoid health problems in childhood and even into adulthood.

The tongue is a very strong muscle and that frenulum is an inelastic cord that is constantly pulling on the floor of the mouth and/or the lower gum ridge (called the alveolar ridge) when the tongue tries to move normally. Without normal tongue movements the oral cavity does not develop properly and since one body part is connected to the other, problems can occur in the rest of the body as well. Here are some effects of tongue tie that are not breastfeeding related.

  • Ineffective oral hygiene
  • Tooth decay
  • Crowding of teeth—especially lower teeth
  • Orthodontia
  • Lisps and other speech impairments
  • Excess saliva production–frenulum pulls salivary glans to unnatural position.
  • Fatigue with speaking
  • Shame, embarrassment with speaking
  • High, arched or “bubble” palate
  • Choking
  • Reflux
  • Snoring
  • Sleep apnea
  • Headaches

So now you know. If your baby is tongue tied and you have been wondering if a frenotomy is “just” for breastfeeding, wonder no more. Your baby will thank you some day!  

See also, “My Baby is Tongue Tied?”

My Baby is Tongue Tied?

October 1, 2011

Important notice:  This blog and all its content and subsequent content is now at www.second9months.com.  Please visit there often for updates and new posts!

“My lactation consultant told me my baby is tongue tied and she needs to get her frenulum clipped so she can breastfeed. What is a frenulum? Why does my baby need this procedure?”

The frenulum is a (usually) thin, fibrous band that connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. The mere existence of a lingual (tongue) frenulum is not an indicator of a problem. The important thing is whether the frenulum restricts the movement of the tongue in a way that interferes with its normal functions.  If it does, your baby has a condition known as tongue tie or ankyloglossia.

One of the vital roles of the tongue for a baby is for feeding. Your baby depends on her tongue for creating a vacuum, sustaining a vacuum, moving the milk to the back of her mouth and swallowing. These things are important whether a baby is breastfeeding or bottle feeding. But when a baby is breastfeeding, the function of the tongue is more critical because incorrect tongue movement/placement equals sore nipples for mommy!

How do you know if your baby is tongue tied? Take a minute to observe your baby with this questions in mind:

  • Does your baby have a hard time latching on?
  • Do your nipples looked creased or flattened after breastfeeding?
  • When your baby cries, does the center of his tongue look “’stuck” to the floor of his mouth with just the edges curling up?
  • When your baby sucks on your finger, do you feel the lower gums either constantly or intermittently?
  • Does your baby seemed stressed with a fast flow of milk?
  • Do feedings take a long time? Or is baby feeding very frequently and never seems satisfied?
  • Does your baby have symptoms of reflux?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, Your baby may be tongue tied! Check with an experienced lactation consultant to be sure. She will examine the baby—paying particular attention to assessment of tongue function. She will also observe the baby feeding. After a thorough evaluation, the lactation consultant may recommend that the baby have the frenulum clipped.

The clipping—called a frenotomy—is usually performed by a doctor or dentist. The doctor will assess tongue function, may observe a feeding or ask you detailed questions about feeding. You should be given instructions to stretch your baby’s tongue periodically after the procedure to ensure that it heals properly. Sometimes a topical anesthetic is used, but not always. The pain the baby experiences is mild and brief (similar to biting your tongue) and bleeding is minimal. After this very quick procedure (it literally takes about 1 second!) most mothers and babies notice an immediate difference in breastfeeding.

Community and Internet Resources

June 28, 2010

www.nestinginstincts.org Comprehensive care from pregnancy through breastfeeding.  Classes, doulas, lactation consultations and placenta encapsulation.  Seattle area.

www.milk-makers.com Delicious cookies that help boost milk supply.  Sign up for informative, monthly newsletter.

www.pollywogbaby.com Information and products for infant reflux and GERD.  Free downloadable parent handout.

www.hadleystilwell.com Beautifully tailored clothing for working, breastfeeding and pumping.

www.fertilefoods.com Resource for fertility issues, pregnancy, breastfeeding and overall nutrition.

www.zoelotus.org, www.rubymoonwellness.com Acupuncture and massage for fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding and beyond.  Seattle area.

www.soundgardenhealing.com Acupuncture specializing in fertility issues.

Bella Materna, comfortable and supportive  bras, panties, camisoles and more for pregnancy, breastfeeding and beyond.

Seattle area birth doulas:

Jan Martinka: www.janmartinka.com

Joy MacTavish: www.sounddoula.com

Down to Earth Doulas: www.downtoearthdoulas.com.  se habla espanol.

Serene Doulas: www.serenedoulas.com A team of 3 doulas providing comprehensive care.

My Baby Has Reflux!

June 28, 2010

“My pediatrician says my baby has reflux! She says there are medications to help. I really don’t want my baby to take medicine. He’s so little. But I also don’t want him to suffer and spit up so much. What should I do? Can you help me?”

Although the diagnosis of reflux seems ominous, keep in mind that all babies have reflux to some degree. The sphincter muscle that separates the stomach and the esophagus is loose and lets fluids go back and forth. That’s why it’s common for babies to spit up after a meal. If your baby seems uncomfortable, however, he may need some help.

I see many babies diagnosed with reflux in my practice. I have found that some simple changes in feeding posture or management can decrease symptoms substantially. Most of my clients do not need to medicate their babies.

If your baby is squirmy, uncomfortable and excessively “spitty” during or after feeds, he may simply be eating too much or too quickly. Do you have an over-abundant milk supply? Does your baby struggle to “keep up” when breastfeeding? Is he gaining weight rapidly?

  • Give your baby frequent burping breaks.
  • Offer baby just one breast per feeding.
  • Position your baby at an incline so that his trunk is higher than his hips and his spine is straight. Try the Pollywog Nursing Positioner at www.pollywogbaby.com.
  • Try breastfeeding lying down on your side with baby beside you.

If your baby has green, frothy stools in addition to discomfort, he may be struggling with a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. This is usually corrected easily by offering just one breast per feeding. Be sure to check with your pediatrician or lactation consultant to ensure your baby is is gaining weight properly before making any changes to your feeding routine.

For assistance with breastfeeding management, contact Renee Beebe at www.second9months.com.

See also, Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?


For more information on infant reflux, including helpful products, please see www.pollywogbaby.com.





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