First-time mothers may be warned by others how difficult and painful breastfeeding can be. However, aside from some discomfort during the initial adjustment period when mom and baby are working to establish their breastfeeding relationship, any notable pain should subside soon after. Breastfeeding is not meant to be an uncomfortable experience and if it is, I would first suggest seeking out help from a board certified lactation consultant. Whether aiding to correct improper latch positioning or pinpointing why nursing is painful, lactation consultants are able to provide helpful methods and plans for new moms.
If a baby’s tongue movement is restricted by a cord of tissue called a frenum, he or she may have difficulty latching onto the breast and creating an effective seal. The infant is essentially gumming on mom’s nipple and not fully able to lift the tongue up and over it entirely. Some mothers with tongue tied infants don’t experience pain at all but may notice baby getting tired at the breast due to frenum-related feeding inefficiency. Recommended treatment for a diagnosed tongue tie is a procedure called a frenectomy.
Here is what you should know about the laser frenectomy procedure to set your mind at ease:
- A state-of-the-art laser, about the size of a pen, is used during this procedure.
- The laser is sterile, and virtually eliminates any chance of infection.
- Because the laser seals blood vessels, there is slight to no bleeding during the procedure.
- The laser also seals nerve endings, so there is less post-op discomfort.
- By making precise cuts with the laser, the provider is able to fully remove restrictive frenular tissue.
- Once your baby is safety swaddled and protected, the procedure itself takes less than a minute! Your baby will be returned to you immediately after.
- General anesthesia is not needed, only a topical numbing gel is used to allow for the most comfortable treatment.
Here is what you should expect AFTER the laser frenectomy procedure:
|Days 1-3||First Week||Weeks 2-4||Weeks 4-6|
|Baby will be sore and likely fussy||Days 7-10 soreness should start tapering off||Exercises will be mildly irritating||Exercises are not necessary at this point|
|A whitish-patch will form on the incision. This is a natural band-aid created by the body||The natural healing patch should reach its maximum size||The natural healing patch should be shrinking in size||The natural healing patch should have disappeared, and a new frenulum has formed in its final shape and position|
|Pain medication will be indicated||Baby will likely still be fussy||Pain medication should not be necessary||Bodywork OT, PT, and LC follow ups will be scheduled as needed|
|Baby might have trouble latching||Baby should now be relearning how to suck||Bodywork and LC follow ups scheduled as needed||Continual progress with feeding should be happening|
|Make sure that backup feeding plans and comfort measures are prepared||Feedings should resume but will likely be inconsistent||A new frenulum will be forming|
|LC Follow-up within first 5 days highly recommended||Start to see signs of improvement in feeding|
|Pain medication given as needed||
Important info to know about:
Follow the Post-Op Info Packet. You will be given a comprehensive Post-Op Info Packet after your baby’s frenectomy. Make sure to read it thoroughly in order to assist your baby in healing properly. The packet covers:
- Pain management recommendations, including recommended Tylenol dosages based on age/weight as well as natural/homeopathic remedies.
- Information on oral wounds and how they heal.
- Stretching exercises with instructions to prevent premature reattachment and expedite the strengthening and healing of the frenum.
- Helpful tips for when your baby is having difficulties during the healing process.
- Additional therapies you can do with your baby to relieve tension and normalize body and structural issues.