Dr. Peterson and his wife, Rachael, have had two children with tongue and lip ties. Read how tongue and lip ties have affected their family and breastfeeding journey from Rachael’s perspective!
When our son Louis was born on July 22, 2018, we were not surprised to find that he had both a lip tie and posterior tongue tie. Thankfully, this time around we were much more experienced, educated, and prepared for what this diagnosis entails for us as parents and for our baby.
Rewind to July 2016, when our daughter Audrey was born and diagnosed with a lip tie and posterior tongue tie at 4 weeks old. Unfortunately for Audrey, it took 4 long weeks of painful, sleepless days and nights from a gassy tummy before we were able to figure out what was causing her symptoms. Prior to her diagnosis, Audrey would not sleep. Ever. She would cry the second she laid down. And her crying was not typical newborn crying, it was painful crying and fussiness. She had difficulty latching, and had frequent, short nursing sessions. She made a clicking sound whenever she was eating. She was unable to suck or hold a nook in her mouth properly. I ended up with mastitis because she was not able to adequately drain me. When I had to take antibiotics to combat the mastitis, Audrey ended up with thrush (a yeast infection) in her mouth (a common side effect when the mother is taking antibiotics), and therefore had to be given an oral antifungal to get rid of the yeast infection. Needless to say, things were a mess and my motherly instincts told me something was wrong. We sought help from a wonderful lactation consultant who assessed Audrey and believed she had a tongue and lip tie. Unfortunately the only doctor in our area had a one month waiting list for tongue and lip tie revision (a procedure known as a frenectomy), so Audrey was nearly 8 weeks old when her tongue and lip were finally revised. We had wonderful results from the frenectomy, and Audrey was able to breastfeed successfully for 13 months!
Our experience with Audrey ignited a passion in Chris and me that we didn’t know we had. Chris started reading more about tongue and lip ties, frenectomies, and everything related. We both wanted to help our friends, family, and community become more educated and aware of tongue and lip ties, and we wanted to provide families with access to frenectomies without having to wait and delay the help they need and deserve. We started connecting with groups and organizations in the community that promoted tongue and lip tie education, and reached out to tons of lactation consultants all over the state to learn as much as we could about how tongue and lip ties are assessed, diagnosed, and ultimately repaired. Chris and I flew to Boston in June 2017 where Chris attended the Pediatric Tongue and Lip-Ties: Diagnosis and Treatment with Soft-Tissue Lasers; Hands-On Course at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, where he was provided in-depth education on breastfeeding, the problems that tongue and lip-ties can produce, and how to perform frenectomies on infants using a laser. Chris then further educated himself and flew to Arizona where he obtained his Solea Dental Laser Certification. His knowledge, passion, and commitment to offering the best results to patients amazes me every day. We continue to promote tongue and lip tie education in our community, and have met some incredible people throughout this journey.
Chris revised our son Louie’s tongue and lip tie when he was 4 days old, and both Louie and I have experienced great results. Has it been perfect? Absolutely not. I’m not sure anyone’s breastfeeding journey is completely perfect. Louie’s latch and suck has improved tremendously, and the pain I originally experienced prior to his frenectomy has subsided. We have worked closely with a lactation consultant (I highly recommend working with a lactation consultant; they are so knowledgeable and helpful!) and are seeing improvements in our breastfeeding journey every single day. One of the most important things I tell other moms who are going through tongue and lip tie diagnosis and revisions is to trust the process. You may not see 100% improvement immediately after a frenectomy. My lactation consultant discussed with me that a baby learns how to suck at just 8 weeks gestation, therefore if a tongue and/or lip tie is present, the baby has been learning how to suck improperly since then. This means that once their tongue and lip tie are repaired, their brain and muscles have to work together to learn a completely new way of sucking. This takes time!
My biggest advice to parents who have a child diagnosed with a tongue and lip tie is to first educate yourself! Find a provider who is specifically and specially trained in tongue and lip ties. Do your research on repair via scissors vs. laser. Reach out to other parents who have had experiences with this process. Connect with groups in the community who offer support and education. And of course, always feel comfortable to reach out to Chris or me. Our main goal is to create awareness of what a tongue and lip tie is, how to recognize symptoms, and how to best treat tongue and lip ties. We want to offer families appointments within a reasonable time frame so they don’t have to wait for an evaluation and/or frenectomy. We also want to provide parents with the necessary resources to have their infant evaluated for a possible tongue and/or lip tie. Parents deserve access to the best possible treatment for their children, and I have seen firsthand how my husband is able to provide this for each and every family he encounters.
Supporting one another as parents and sharing our experiences are some of the best ways to ensure success when it comes to tongue and lip ties, and everything else parenting related! 🙂
Please always feel free to reach out to Chris or me with any questions; we are happy to help!