Tag Archive | "tongue tied"

What my overdue baby taught me about my induction

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Because everyone I know online is pregnant I have been hearing a lot about their labors.  Some were hospital births, some were at home, and many were even VBACs.  Luckily, most of my friends are pretty informed about pregnancy, labor, and delivery.  This meant that most of them waited for the baby to come when the baby was ready.  Many of these babies decided they wanted to wait until after their “due date.”

This is what I noticed.  These “overdue” babies gave their mamas a short labor.  All labors, whether they are an hour or 20, hurt.  If I were given a choice, I would rather have a relatively quick and intense labor like the one I had with my second son, than the 20 hour slow starting, induced labor of my first.

Everett was born at home at 41 weeks and 3 days.  My labor was 4 hours and 45 minutes including 20 minutes of pushing.

Friend A was 41 weeks and 3 days with her third baby (her second HBAC), and her labor was 6 hours.

Jill from Baby Rabies recently gave birth to her second baby at 41 weeks.  She walked into the hospital at a 7 and delivered 2 hours after checking in after an intense and fast labor. Her birth story.

We were all “overdue,” very large, uncomfortable, and ready to have a baby.  We waited a long time

One of my theories is that my babies need to bake longer than the “40 week” mark.  Every woman is different, every pregnancy is different.  Why is there so much importance placed on this magic 40 week mark?  The reason I say this is because of the differences I saw in my first son after birth compared to my second.

My first son was induced when I was 39 weeks 3 days.  To most pregnant people they would assume this is plenty of time to bake a baby.  My OB decided to induce me because I had Gestational Diabetes and was told going 1 day over 40 wasn’t an option (pshaw… wish I had known) and because at my growth scans they noticed my baby’s abdomen was measuring small (but consistently small, why worry?).  The day we went in for a follow up scan they told me to pack my bags and come in the next day because, and I quote, “the baby has baked long enough.”

I had a pitocin induced labor which took over 20 hours from start to finish.  I couldn’t take the humpback contractions and opted for the epidural.  To this day I am amazed I ended up with a vaginal birth now that I know the statistics for inductions and long labors.

Fletcher was 7 lbs 2 0z and 19.5 inches long.  He was coated with thick vernix.  Why do I mention this?  Typically, full term babies have already sloughed off most or all of their vernix.

A very cheesey newborn

Fletcher was very drowsy and we had an insanely difficult time with nursing.  He didn’t latch properly and would fall asleep at the breast in minutes.  Instead of cuddling my new baby I was forced to torture him to stay awake in order to eat.  I undressed him, flicked his feet, blew on his face, all to get food in his belly by order of the nurses.

He was also fairly small and rag dollish.  He became jaundiced but not severe enough to need lights.  He looked like a stick figure baby when I look back at photos.

In comparison, my “overdue” baby, Everett, was born at 41 weeks 3 days (2 full weeks more than Fletcher).  He weighed 8 lbs 8 oz and was 20.5 inches long.

He also had vernix, but a much lighter coating.

He was alert and ready to nurse.

He had the head control of a 1 month old and could lift his head off my chest at a few minutes old.

His latch was perfect (but he was tongue tied which we had clipped, more on that here)

He also slept great from day 1 (at night that is)

I am not saying every problem I had with my first son was related to him being born too early, nor am I saying every thing right with my second has to do with him being born overdue.  My boys both also had very different birth experiences.  Fletcher was induced, put through a long labor and a very long pushing phase (3 hours) and was born while I was on an Epidural.  Everett came when he was ready, he had a calm labor lasting less than 5 hours with a 20 minute push phase.  Part of their difference in labor is probably because second labors are typically faster as well, so I can’t blame everything on being induced.

My wish for all women is that they not have to even deal with the pressure to be induced.  With the staggering rate of C-Sections, babies born too soon thanks to being induced before the baby was ready (you can read a recent article in Time magazine to that effect, which is ironic since I wrote this a week ago, good timing!), and the high rate of Maternal deaths in the US, women need to educate themselves and possibly prepare to butt heads with their care provider.

I wasn’t exactly thrilled about being 41 weeks and 3 days pregnant but I trusted my body and my baby. I had a very routine (and easy) pregnancy other than my gestational diabetes, which was well under control.  My baby made a grand entrance into the world and kept us all anxiously waiting.  I’m so thankful for our supportive midwives and the internet for informing me that I am in charge of my body, not my OB GYN.

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Tongue Tied and Breastfeeding

Tongue Tied and Breastfeeding

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After all of the troubles I had nursing my first son in the beginning, I had looked forward to a very easy go of it with baby number 2.  I knew how to get a baby latched, all of the different positions, what breastfeeding pillow worked best for me, and so on.  On the second day of nursing my nipples started to blister.  I was in terrible pain by the afternoon!  I tweeted about my problems and a few people responded: “Is your baby tongue tied?”

I had heard of this before but had not thought to check.  According to tonguetie.net it is:

Tongue Tie – also known as ‘Ankyloglossia’ or ‘anchored tongue’ – is a common but often overlooked condition.

It is seen at birth and causes a wide range of difficulties that affect the sufferer in different ways. Diagnosis and assessment are essential before taking any remedial action. In the past, there was little besides observation or anecdotal evidence to guide us towards a decision about whether to intervene. Now, both diagnosis and assessment of a tongue tie can be made by informed and qualified professionals.

Sure enough, I looked at the underside of my son’s tongue and saw that the “frenum” (thingy that anchors your tongue) extended to the very tip.  He could not extend his tongue past his bottom lip.

So now what?

I know tongue tied babies could have the frenum “clipped.”  I was 100% sure he was tongue tied, so I called my pediatrician.  We were in a pickle since my pediatrician didn’t even know we had another baby!  We had planned on waiting over a week to call.  Our midwife advised us that most peds are not homebirth friendly and if we called earlier, would demand us to bring him in sooner.

The phone conversation was awkward.

“So…….. we had a baby a couple of days ago and need to have him seen.  We think he is tongue tied and would like to see about having it clipped.”

“What is his name?  Where was he born? etc..”

“Everett R. Home.”

*chirp chirp*

They were able to see us in 30 minutes so we rushed to get ready.  This was Everett’s first time out of the house.

Once there, the reaction of the receptionist and nurse regarding the lack of paperwork that the office had on our baby was a little funny.  They weighed him and all of that fun stuff.  Then the doctor showed up and immediately said “We don’t clip tongues.”


He did get a phone call into an Ear Nose and Throat doctor that he felt sure clipped tongues.  She was able to see us in a couple of hours.  Our baby was given a clean bill of health from the pediatrician, who said he was beautiful and the picture of health, and we left for the next doctor.

The ENT saw our son after a very long wait.  I had to nurse my son in public for the first time in the waiting room here.  Considering my nipples were raw, this was very difficult.  I had to use the football hold in a waiting room chair.

As soon as she saw my son she confirmed he was definitely tongue tied.  He was a 3 out of 4 regarding the severity.  Great.  No wonder my nipples were screaming in pain.

She let us know that she could clip him that day in the office.  We asked a few questions.  My main concern was the pain and how it would affect his nursing afterwards.  She assured me that the clipping would hurt very little, and only for a moment.  I was going to wait outside and my husband held him for the procedure.  They did apply a topical numbing agent.  It took seconds, I heard a cry, and I was called back in.  I immediately dropped my nursing tank and latched him on, bloody mouth and all.

He calmed down instantly and nursed.  Literally, the moment he latched I could tell he was nursing better.  While it still hurt because my nipples were blistered and raw, it only hurt while he latched.

Once he was finished we packed him in the car seat and drove home.  I felt such relief about our decision to clip his tongue.  I was also grateful we caught it early.  Prior to the clipping, nursing was so painful I winced and tensed up for the entire session, especially on my left side.  Had I not called that day my nipples would have gotten even worse.  In situations like this, the sooner you can clip the tongue, the better.

Eating from "righty"

Today I can happily say I am 95% pain free! My right side has healed completely and I can latch him in any position now, even while wearing him and walking around!  My left side was worse so it still has a little healing to do.  I still get less pain when I use the football hold or cradle.  Side lying in bed is harder and can still cause a wince, but at night I am too lazy to sit up and nurse so I have just dealt with it.  I believe by tomorrow I am going to be 100% ok.  I did favor my left side by pumping on occasion to give my nipple a break, and I used a nipple shield a few times when it was very painful.

To those who have never heard of this condition, it sounds barbaric to clip a piece of the tongue.  I understand.  It seems harsh.  However, I have seen with my own eyes how quickly the pain disappears.  To me, nothing is more important that salvaging the nursing relationship.  I worked for over a month with Lactation Consultants to perfect my first son’s latch.  This time, a small medical procedure was needed.  Even though he was getting enough milk, over time it could have affected my supply.  And of course, me being in extreme pain would have made continuing breastfeeding very hard.

If you suspect your baby is tongue tied, due to a painful and shallow latch, or of course, if you notice their tongue is anchored underneath, it is very wise to at least have them looked at.  I promise, it sounds terrible, but clipping their tongue will be worth it.  Other than breastfeeding problems, tongue tied babies can have trouble eating solids and can even develop speech problems.

image courtesy of Stanford Medical.

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