So the baby is born – the hard part is over right? Then this thing breastfeeding that we’re supposed to just figure out. Thank goodness for so many more lactation consultants being trained and recognized for the value they offer. If you’re blessed enough to see one of these ladies, they may be trained in frenum ties and pick up on a possible lip or tongue tie. Most pediatricians have no training in lip and tongue ties, medically known as ankyloglossia. Ankyloglossia is absolutely treatable for physical therapy, but the key is finding providers who are knowledgeable on the subject. I love helping families get a team together
If you’re lucky enough to feel confident in an accurate diagnosis, you have to find a provider who will cut those frenums. A CO2 laser is currently the standard for the cutting of these frenums. This can be pediatricians, ENTs, pediatric dentists or nurse practitioners so even that can make it tricky to know who to look for. Moms typically turn to other moms or facebook for info and recommendations.
Thankfully, resources are growing but most families are sent in to a doctor, frenums are lasered and then they hope for the best – with breastfeeding. I have yet to meet a family who has been educated on the midline restrictions, attachments of the frenums or other issues affected besides breastfeeding. Hence this blog post. I have had 4 new families in the past 2 weeks, none who had any idea the full pictures of symptoms or how the issues fit together so I want to do my best to help give parents a more thorough explanation.
- Does your baby spit up often?
- Have reflux? Or been called “collicky”?
- Hate the car seat?
- Have difficulty sleeping or seem restless?
- Does your baby scream in pain that seems like gas?
- Does your baby poop daily?
- Hate tummy time?
- Keep their hands fisted or feet clenched most of the time?
- Turn their head mostly to one side?
- Prefer nursing on one side?
- Do you notice your baby mouth breathing frequently?
- Seem tight like they want to try to stand already?
- Have you wondered if your baby is super strong because they seem to have head control early?
- Have difficulty relaxing and curling around your body when you nurse or hold them?
- Show signs of rolling early?
Believe it or not, these can all be signs of midline tightness. In more extreme cases, there can even be penile torsion, a sacral dimple or labial adhesions in girls. For this post, I’m focussing on the most frequently reported issues. It is so common for me to have moms express frustration at their “collicky” baby and all the things they’ve cut out of their diets and so often it is structural issues with their little bellies that is causing gas pain and pooping only every 2-5 days.
Or 1 family thought the only issue was some torticollis when really there were many of the issues I just listed and the torticollis was related to midline tightness. Not to confuse the issue, some babies can just have torticollis from positioning in the womb or other factors not related to midline. My next post will be about torticollis and flat head issues so we will get into that more then!
So you’ve noticed that your baby has several of the symptoms I mentioned in the list. Now what? We typically see the best results when families have the support of a practitioner to do the frenum releases, an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) to help with breastfeeding education and latch, bodywork such as myofascial release, craniosacral and/or chiropractic work. This seems like a lot but it’s really only over a 4-6 week period typically and can save the breastfeeding relationship, often avoid a lot of pain for mom, pain for baby, avoid infant weight loss due to baby working so hard to nurse and not transferring milk efficiently.
Babies may seem to be nursing ok but in reality, using a lot more energy than they should be, which often explains their need to nurse almost constantly, at least it feels constant to the mamas! Baby might latch but that doesn’t mean they have an efficient suck. A big part of what I do is make sure their little neuro system gets back online!
There is so much we could go into, but I hope this list at least helps you look at your baby with a clearer picture of how things fit together. This same list can serve as a checklist as baby grows. Sometimes they appear to regress when really, a growth spurt has caused them to tighten up again. The home program I provide often enables parents to move through those periods more smoothly and to have the knowledge and confidence for knowing when baby may need some additional treatment.