Saturday, September 15, 2012

Breastfeeding a Baby with Lip and Posterior Tongue Ties

Today I have a guest post from a mom, Diane Coombs of New Foundland, Canada, who shares her story on breastfeeding a baby with lip and tongue tie.

My baby girl is nine months old today! Our breastfeeding relationship got off to a rough start because of an undiagnosed posterior tongue tie and lip tie. The pediatrician in the hospital did not diagnose her, neither did our LC nor family doctor. I was told over and over it was 'poor latch' or thrush or 'lazy feeder.' All were incorrect.

Scarlett was gagging, coughing, extremely gassy, and she 'clicked' with each suck, my poor nipples were being crushed and so badly abraded my daughter would spit up blood after feeding. Nursing was making her so tired, she was sleeping through feeds to conserve calories, and was losing weight in a vicious cycle.

I researched what could be causing our issues, trusting my gut that there was something more wrong besides the diagnosis given. I went to a LLL meeting and met a mom whose story matched mine. She was unable to get her son treated locally so she went to see Dr. Kotlow, a pediatric dentist in Albany, NY - the leading expert in the field of tongue and lip tie. Immediately I got in touch with Dr. Kotlow. He diagnosed the problem via pictures I sent him, and I quickly booked our flight: 1500 miles from Eastern Canada to Albany. She was treated (laser revision) and immediately, she latched PERFECTLY!

I am not saying each baby with latch issues is tongue or lip tied, (and not every baby with a lip and/or tongue tie has trouble breastfeeding) but if you are having problems, and seem to have no answers - research it and see if tongue tie (especially POSTERIOR tongue tie) and/or lip tie is the issue. Here are some places to start:

The Hidden Causes of Feeding Problems?

Posterior Tongue Tie Information

Self Help for tongue tie and latch (photos and descriptions which may help you find tongue tie yourself, plus tips on improving latch)

Breastfeeding with an upper labial tie (lip tie)

Trouble Breastfeeding? Look in your baby's mouth. (Overcoming lip and tongue tie with an older baby)

To share with a reluctant provider: The American Academy of Pediatrics' newsletter on tongue tie and breastfeeding

The Myths About Painful Breastfeeding

Tongue Tie Photo Gallery

I hope you don't have to jump through as many hoops as we did, and I hope you have someone closer to you who is an expert in the field. See the list of frenotomy surgeons here to find one near you:

Cheers, and happy breastfeeding!

She's about 7.5 months here.

WARNING ON NEXT PIC: Post revision scar of the lip tie - might make some squeamish! Before's on the left, after's on the right. The whole look of her face changed! The before pics were takes two weeks before the after.

Her posterior tongue tie - very hard to diagnose unless you know what to look for.

Here is a video on finding a posterior tongue tie:

This is an excellent video on post-frenectomy exercises: Frenectomy Exercises with Melissa Cole of Luna Lactation

If you need help with breastfeeding, or suspect your baby has a tongue or lip tie, a Breastfeeding Counselor La Leche League LeaderNursing Mother’s Counsel or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant may be able to help.

Have you breastfed a baby with tongue and/or lip tie? Did you find the help you needed in your area?


  1. I had the same situation with my daughter Olivia. Thanks for talking about this issue. I wish there was more help out there!

  2. I love diane and scarlett !! Im going thru this issue with my daughter atm

  3. Hi, thanks for sharing your story. My daughter is 8 months now and has a posterior tongue tie and upper lip tie. We have gone through all the same problems as yourself and now she is starting solids she is choking a lot so I'm wondering if I should push my doctor to get this sorted but I'm terrified of her going through a general anasthetic and I don't think they use a lazer here in the uk they cut it if I'm right l. How was your daughter with regards to the anaesthetic and recovery/healing time, we are still breastfeeding an she won't take a pasifier or bottle at all and she feeds often so fasting before a general would also be a huge problem, and I'm worried if she will have problems with her latch after the division. Thanks, kathryn.

    1. It sure sounds like your baby could benefit from a tongue tie release! Some doctors use a little topical anesthetic, some do not. The pain is minimal as there is very little nerve tissue in the frenulum. The fact they they would use scissors instead of a laser is not a problem at all. This may help

  4. My 7 week old has not latched on from the beginning. At about 4 weeks old I met with a lactation consultant who thought he may have an upper lip tie. After meeting with a specialist, he had the surgery done today (7 weeks). They put a mask on him and he was done within 15 min. I have not tried breastfeeding him yet because I just want to let him rest, but he took a bottle well in the recovery room.