Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A New Adventure in Breastfeeding

I've always had a fairly easy time nursing my babies. Sure, I had some soreness when I nursed my first. And I did have mastitis when Maddie was an infant and I was tandem nursing two. (It is hard to not become engorged when you have that much milk!) However, I've never had real difficulties until Ben was born.

After we brought Benjamin home from the hospital, I noticed that he had a hard time latching on. The bit of soreness I developed in the hospital became extreme pain while nursing him. I used Lansinoh which helped slightly but not nearly enough. I started noticing that his tongue looked a little funny. My suspicions were confirmed when we visited the pediatrician to have Ben's cord clamp removed when he was four days old. The doctor pointed out that Ben had a short frenulum, also known as tongue tie. The piece of skin that connects the underside of the tongue to the mouth was too short, making him unable to stick out his tongue to get a proper latch. The pediatrician assured me that he would probably outgrow it, and as long as he was gaining weight (he was!) and I was not having pain with nursing (hmmm!), we could let it go for now. He added that some people feel it is better to not have their babies go through the trauma of having the problem corrected when formula is an option.

I went home and promptly did my own research. I found out that the tongue clipping procedure is actually very simple and almost painless to small babies. As a child grows, the frenulum gets tougher and therefore, more painful to cut. I also read a list of reasons to go ahead with a clipping as opposed to waiting it out. Several-- poor latch, pain while nursing, and making a "V" shape with the tongue while crying-- fit our situation.

Having successfully nursed my older three children, formula or bottles was not an option for me. But the pain continued to get worse until I was in tears at the beginning of each nursing session. I finally broke down and called the pediatrician's office and told them I wanted Ben's tongue clipped. They were very nice about it and referred me to an Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist who gave me an appointment for 4 LONG, PAINFUL DAYS AWAY! Deciding to make the best of it and realizing the problem was a poor latch, I worked with him to latch better and the pain did decrease.

Yesterday, was the big day. The ENT doctor quickly agreed that we needed to clip his tongue. Ben slept through the beginning when the doc was examining him and applying a topical anesthetic. He whimpered when the doctor actually made the cut, but that was more from being woken from his nap then from pain. As soon as the cut was made and they made sure there wasn't excessive bleeding (there wasn't-- just a spot of blood), I was able to nurse him. Wow! What a difference. I am still having to be patient with Ben as he re-learns his latch, but my pain is almost gone! I am so thankful I did my own research and decided to have this done.


  1. I'm glad you posted on this--I had been wondering what it was like to have that corrected. I've always wondered if Suzi didn't have a slight, slight case of that. Our nursing sessions were painful for me for at least a month and a half. There was also a clicking noise when she nursed, even though her lips were positioned correctly and I was doing everything else right. Our LC couldn't even figure it out, except to say that she had a bit of a high arch. I think it was because her tongue wasn't coming out far enough, but I guess I'll never know for sure why. Now she nurses just fine!

    Anyway, I'm glad Ben's was easy to correct! I can't believe the doc told you it might be easier to just give the baby formula to save him the trauma. If that's what they're after, circumcision is a terrible idea! (And most doctors certainly wouldn't tell you THAT.)

  2. I never knew of this problem until you wrote about it in your email. I know how much pain I was in when I began to nurse Grayson, which resulted in a latching on issues, so I can only imagine the pain you were feeling. I was also in tears before each nursing session- but I'm sure to not the extent you were. I am so proud of you for finding a solution to the issue and so thankful that Ben was able to get it fixed with little pain, blood or trauma! :) Great job, Kristin!

  3. I'm so glad that the situation is fixed for you. I know it must be a big relief. It's too bad your pediatrician wasn't more supportive and you had to wait longer. I could never get BB to latch on correctly, and at his pediatrician's (and everyone else's) urging, I simply pumped and gave via bottle. Which is a nice way of saying I pumped and fed, pumped and fed, the baby all day and all night. Not too fun, but now I now better.

  4. I forgot to mention that he clicked when he nursed, too, so yes, Jenny, that could have been an issue for Suzi.

  5. I'm so glad you did that! I would have been sad to have given up nursing when the fix was that "easy".


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