Three months after our baby had the laser frenulectomy for her upper lip-tie and lower tongue-tie, shortly after I stopped massaging the areas in her mouth where the extra skin was lasered off, the breastfeeding latching issues started up yet again. Needless to say this was frustrating. When I went to breastfeed my baby, she began clamping down extra hard with her mouth on my breasts, causing severe breast pain. At this point I was like a deer in headlights not knowing what to do. I figured we already addressed the lip-tie and tongue tie issue, what else did we need to look into now?
Every time I went to breastfeed, I began to tense up from the anticipated pain of her mouth clamping down harder than usual onto my breast. My baby looked frustrated as well. I went to see three more lactation specialists and was told by one that my baby had a strong “clamp-down” reflex and sometimes this was just an issue that couldn’t always be fixed. My lactation specialist tried everything she could do to help me and then recommended that a craniosacral therapist. She said she may be able to help my baby’s “clamp-down” reflex and shared another woman’s success story.
After much time and money was spent trying to resolve “clamping” issue, even after seeing a craniosacral therapist, things were only getting worse. I wanted so badly for breastfeeding to work and felt like I would do whatever it took to figure it out and resolve it. Nothing was working no matter how many lactation consultants I saw. I felt like I had no where else to turn for help.
As much as I wanted to continue, I had to stop breastfeeding at around 6 months and I began to pump. Not reaching by breastfeeding goals were quite discouraging to say the least.
Months after this was all over, while I was formally training to become a professional certified lactation counselor I learned there that there is no such thing as a “clamp-down” reflex when breastfeeding, and if the baby is clamping down hard on your breast, this means the baby is having a latching problem and difficulty with milk transfer (getting enough milk to come out).
Based on where the cuts on my breasts and nipples were located, clearly indicated my baby’s lip-tie had grown back again (4 months after the surgery). I was told by the pediatric dentist when she originally had the procedure done that regrowth could sometimes be an issue however 2 months after she had the procedure done, the dentist who did the procedure did a follow-up check up and said the areas that were lasered in her mouth looked great, so I figured we didn’t need to look back with the tongue-tie, lip-tie issue.
My baby’s lip tie grew back 4 months after it was lasered and she should have had a laser frenulectomy on her labial frenulum (lip-tie) done a second time to resolve the repeated latching problems. I, unfortunately did not know or understand this information until many months after I had already stopped breastfeeding.
We could have properly addressed the problem instead of thinking it was something else, something different that couldn’t be helped because it could have been an easy fix if we went back to the pediatric dentist again.
It is still not common-place for many specialists to be treating tongue-ties and lip-ties, therefore how could they then search for regrowth of lip-tie if they are not that familiar with it to begin with, much less the regrowth of it? I do feel it important in future training for lactation specialists to become adept at noticing a possible re-growth of tongue or lip tie knowing that this can be the cause of why breast pain that was once first resolved by the baby having a frenulectomy has the possibility of coming back again.
And the pediatric dentist should know that the unnoticed re-growth happened a month or two after their follow-up, maybe they should note that frenulectomy patients should have another follow up as well.
I met another breastfeeding mother who had this same issue that did end up having the laser frenulectomy for a second time on her baby and was able to continue breastfeeding for a much longer period of time.
Had my baby had the laser upper labial frenulectomy done for a second time, we would have both likely both been able to go back to breastfeeding comfortably again.
I hope this blog helps any breastfeeding mother seeking out information and others’ experiences with tongue-tie, labial frenulum (lip-ties), laser frenulectomies, and all the positives, hiccups, and challenges that go along with them. Sometimes a laser frenulectomy may need to be repeated more than once to fully resolve the breastfeeding latching problem.