Editors note: This post originally appeared in 2015 on the Down With Spitup blog. More resources and information has been added throughout the years.
Read this first!
First off, I would recommend reading this post before you Google image search these terms. It will better prepare for what you need to see but maybe don't want to see. If I'm too late, my apologies!
Secondly, I've seen a lot of chatter (and/or moms going quite mad) over the past few years specific to this.
Either they didn't notice, didn't know of connections to their infant's issues, or simply didn't even know it was "a thing." Count me in to this group.
Once educated the conversations can change dramatically with your docs, lactation consultants, etc. Read on for info and updated resources.
And don't beat yourself up if some answers are literally right under their nose!
What is tongue-tie or lip-tie?
I found these simple explanations on the Australian Breastfeeding Association site:
"Tongue-tie occurs when the thin piece of skin under the baby's tongue (the lingual frenulum) is very short and restricts the movement of the tongue. The tongue is not free or mobile enough for the baby to attach properly to the breast."
"An upper lip-tie is where a piece of skin under the baby’s upper lip (the labial frenulum) is very short or thick and is pinned too tightly to the upper gum. This can restrict movement of the upper lip preventing it from being able to flange or ‘pull out’."
There's also information online regarding lower lip ties, and the issues that may be involved.
As you can imagine, both conditions can cause challenges in breastfeeding and proper feeding overall.
The reflux and colic connection
What's more, according to MommyPotamus' EPIC POST on Diagnosing Tongue and Lip Ties, "Unfortunately, the symptoms are often misdiagnosed as other conditions like colic, reflux, and failure to thrive because many pediatricians and lactation do not know how to properly identify them." This article goes into detail on diagnosing this condition, including an incredible list of symptoms and graphics and photos to review.
And according to the Dr. Gharheri site dedicated to these issues, "babies who have tongue-tie and lip-tie commonly take in significant amounts of air." The article continues, "Sometimes, an audible clicking or gulping sound is heard. Parents can often feel or hear air in their child's stomach, and burping doesn't always work to get it out. This air can act as propellant, causing silent reflux, spitting up or even projectile vomiting." You can view the full article here.
Babies that are bottle-fed can have the same issues: taking in too much air because of an inadequate seal. I exclusively used Dr. Brown's for both of my children to try and remedy the extra air.
So, what's the deal?
Fortunately, or unfortunately, this is one of those gut parenting situations that I talk about so frequently. You or your doctor might come to the conclusion that your little one indeed has a tie, and can discuss courses of treatment.
According to The Leaky Boob's "Basics of Tongue and Lip-tied Related Issues: Assessment and Treatment" the
frenotomy/frenectomy is a relatively routine procedure done by a variety of physicians, with minimal risks and quick recovery involved. However, as the article states, there is a risk of reattachment.
Whether this will correct or lessen your child's reflux and colic symptoms will be unique to your situation, but as in all cases, the more factors you can eliminate as the source will help you and child get closer to finding the right solutions for you.
My advice to start is to simply to open their mouth, look closely and then blow up Google with some comparative image searches.
There's so much you're caught up in as a new parent, or while balancing multiple kids and babies, sometimes the answers are right under your (their) nose.
Spit Up Support Blog
Yea, I went there. Nearly half of all babies spit up, regularly. Some more, some less, and for many it's just plain scary.
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