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My Personal Testimony- Pediatric Chiropractic & Tongue Ties

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Posted on 04-07-2016

As a mother of a baby who was born with a third-degree posterior tongue tie and full lip tie I fully understand the frustration and even emotional turmoil that can happen over struggling with helping your baby adapt to breast-feeding in the first few hours, days and weeks of life. 

Throughout my pregnancy with my son Jaxon I prayed that God would bless me with a good milk supply this go around. I had so much birth trauma with the my previous labor and delivery of my daughter Jordan who is now 4 1/2 years old and it severely impacted my milk supply. My milk didn't come in until Jordan was about five days old and by that time I had to start supplementing her because she was hysterical and not gaining weight. That was a really hard time for me. I thought that my body had completely failed me. Not only did I not achieve my completely natural birth that I had set out to but now I couldn't even feed my baby. I struggled with breast-feeding, pumping, and supplementing for the first three months of my daughters life and until  about 12 weeks when we had a breakthrough and I was able to stop pumping and supplementing and exclusively breast-feed. This breakthrough was because I decided to tune in to my innate guidance from within ditch all the advice and trust my gut instincts. I had talked to IBCLC's, midwives, breast-feeding hotline's, support groups, la leche league leaders all of which told me that if my milk supply hadn't fully established within the first two weeks of breast-feeding that it pretty much never would. Being a woman who marches to the beat of her own drum believing that with hope all things are possible, that the human body is capable of healing and reaching a normal physiological state beyond the boundaries of what most people know to be true and have experienced (I'm a chiropractor and have seen so many miracles firsthand and heard of hundreds of testimonies related to the healing of the human body) I did not give up and just believed with 100% certainty that it was possible. I was able to maintain that breast-feeding relationship until my daughter was two years old.

Having gone through this definitely prepared me for what I faced with my son and his tongue tie issues. Right after he was born I recall the prenatal nurse saying oh that's so great he doesn't have a tongue tie so he is going to nurse perfectly! I didn't know much about tongue ties and was far too exhausted and exhilarated to ask her what she was talking about. But I definitely took note and had a general feeling of relief that she thought he would nurse great. He did in fact latch great and my milk supply came in within about 24 hours. He was guzzling milk and totally content sleeping like a baby. But as the 2nd week hit I started noticing that my nipples were just really sore...a lot more than I had remembered with my daughter. I also thought they would be less sore the second time around since my body had been through this process before. The soreness led to scabbing and the pinched nipple look. I started to get really concerned because I literally couldn't feed him on one side because it was so bad and I was running through nipple soothing pads and ointments of all types. Once that happened I knew that I needed an expert to come in and help me before my milk supply started to plummet. I contacted a local IBCLC to come examine him and help me as much as possible. She mentioned over the phone that the popping and clicking, the frequent pulling off the nipple, and the pinched nipple and scabbing sounded exactly like a posterior tongue tie. Once I heard that I immediately went into the doctor brain and started researching in medical journals and text books etc. I found a great video on the diagnosis of posterior tongue ties and watched it. I examined my son and voilà he definitely had a posterior tongue tie as well as a lip tie. I never knew what it was until now but it was clear as day. I felt completely devastated. I felt like I was going to immediately experience Groundhog Day with the same nursing challenges I had with Jordan. But I also felt this huge sense of empowerment knowing what we were facing and catching it early on. 

The lactation consultant came over that evening and did a very thorough evaluation which included a head neck and mouth exam, a pre-and post feeding weight, and observation of him throughout his feeding. She informed me that he did in fact have a tongue tie and a lip tie. He was actually transferring milk and had gained enough weight throughout the feeding because I did have so much milk coming out despite his latch. However she said that his tongue tie was pretty significant. We then spent the next 30 minutes discussing her recommendation for tongue tie revision. She suggested that we have a tongue tie revision by a pediatric dentist which she felt would be the most appropriate treatment. Although I respected her professional opinion I as a mother was horrified at the idea of clipping or lasering any tissue on my child, the process in which he would have to endure during the procedure, and the healing that he would have to go through afterwards. Also, as a chiropractor and practitioner of a natural healing art it goes against my philosophy to have any medical procedure, surgery or medication unless ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. And for something to be absolutely necessary in my book every other option must be completely exhausted. However, dealing with the future risk of having a milk supply issue and definite nursing issues I knew my time was limited on how soon I needed to see a significant change in not only the health of my nipples but the ability for my baby to continue to transfer milk effectively and gain weight adequately. 

Fearful, exhausted and desperate I turned to my husband, who is also a chiropractor, and told him that we had to do something to help our son because I didn't want him to have to have his tongue cut! Eric took one look at me and told me to calm down and that he wasn't going to need surgery. I have to admit that I doubted his statement. I didn't want him to have surgery and I was very fearful of it but I did doubt that he wouldn't have to have it. After all wasn’t that the best recommendation? How did my husband know? He had never nursed a baby. He had never dealt with tongue ties and neither had I. I was at a complete loss as to what to do but my husband in his calm Doctor-I don't have mom hormones raging through my veins demeanor- immediately went into his chiropractic head and started evaluating and troubleshooting our sons upper cervical spine, TMJ, pallet and all the muscles that control nursing. He used all the methods that we typically use when evaluating a pediatric or adult spine- palpation in combination with applied kinesiology. He adjusted his neck, his TMJ, his pallet and stripped his pterygoids and masseter muscles. He also released the frenulum under his tongue and the muscles of the floor of the mouth. He did the exact same thing that we have done time and time again for adults presenting with upper cervical (neck) and TMJ issues. Except in addition to the typical TMJ evaluation and adjustment he also worked on the muscles of the tongue and the frenulum. Other than that everything else was what we've always done. He said,”Okay he's clear. Try that and let me know what happens." The next time I nursed Jaxon there was no popping and clicking, he stopped pulling off and going back on and my extremely sore nipples weren't any further damaged although they were still hurting. 

Over the next few days we continued to adjust him and work on everything. I'd say we did it probably 3 to 4 times. By the fourth day my nipples were completely healed up. He had not popped and clicked off loosing his latch but maybe once or twice and each time I just made sure I broke his latch completely and relatched him. He stopped gulping air. His gas diminished. He stop spitting up so much. He was more satisfied and less frustrated. And my nipples were completely healed!

Jaxon was adjusted a few minutes after birth and we continued adjusting him on a bit of a more frequent basis in the beginning in order to remove interference to his nervous system so that he could adapt and overcome the challenges that he faced with nursing as well as to realign the structure of his upper cervical spine and TMJ to allow optimal opening, positioning, and function. He continued to do great and by the second week there was absolutely no sign that he had even ever had a nursing issue at all. Because we KNOW that ALL human beings … especially infants who are navigating the new world outside of the womb are much better off being completely connected to the intelligence that runs and regulates their body through their nervous system, we check and clear our children’s nervous system at least once a week regardless of symptoms or sickness.   

Although his tongue tie completely surprised us, seeing my husband immediately tune into that innate wisdom gave me the strength to trust my instincts and give him time to heal and overcome. Here we are 10 months later and he is a super chunky nursed on demand sweet baby boy! Through out the past 10 months I have felt him regressing a little bit in his latch about 4 times (usually around the time of a growth spurt) and most lactation consultants would say that he was decompensating as he grows and that is a risk of not doing the revision. However, all we did is check his nervous system and spinal alignment and sure enough he had a few more things than usual showing up and needed a little work on his palate & TMJ again and afterwards he would be latching like a champ once again and have no sign of decompensation. Chiropractic adjustments have helped him overcome the new challenges that come into play through out his development. 

Since returning to practice part-time when he was 3 months old I have seen many mothers and babies with the same exact story - baby has a tongue tie, mother is a sobbing hurting exhausted at the end of her rope mess and everyone is recommending a revision because it’s a “quick” and “permanent fix." My chiropractic knowledge and personal experience has given me the ability to help these babies regain their natural ability to breastfeed and save this bonding experience with their mothers without the pain and recovery of a revision. The results and recovery I have seen both mamas and babies make has been phenomenal and serving this part of the community has become a huge passion of mine. 

Although most cases I see have not had a revision, I see plenty of mothers who have gone through with a full revision and yet the biomechanics of nursing are still not just right and in some cases even worse because the baby has lost the ability to compensate. There are also those cases where the tongue tie actually grows back together - YES! Because your body is healing as it was designed to! Chiropractic still helps these babies because it does exactly the same thing it does for babies who have not had revisions- it removes interference to the babies nervous system allowing the communication from the babies brain to the body to flow freely giving the baby back the ability to adapt to its internal and external environment. Through the healing process and reconnection of this intelligence the baby can now lay down new motor patterns faster and more efficiently improving their ability to nurse. I believe it is important to say that Chiropractic is not a treatment for tongue ties. It is not a treatment of anything but rather the restoration of optimal nervous system function and biomechanics as described above. 

I frequently receive referrals from doulas, midwives, and other chiropractors, birth workers and patients who know someone struggling to transition and thrive in the first hours and days of birth. Because I know all too well what postpartum recovery is like I offer home, hospital and birthing center visits when necessary because I know the sooner we help these babies normalize their life expression the better.  

Whether your baby has had a revision or not my hope is that my testimony sheds some light on how you and your baby or someone you know can overcome the challenges that we all face in the first stages of breastfeeding and possibly give you an opportunity to look at chiropractic as a way of increasing you and your families life expression. 

Love, 

Dr. Lauren 

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