Tongue-tied Baby

Tongue-tied is a phrase we commonly use on people who are caught in a speechless situation.

Never did I think that I will face a tongue-tied situation with my newborn son, literally.

The day Breyen was born, his paediatrician, also Phoebie’s PD, Dr Lim, did a checkup for him after we left the delivery suite. He came to my room shortly after he had seen Breyen and gave us a report on how our newborn baby is doing.

Dr Lim told us that Breyen is doing well, except for a couple of things, one of which was that Breyen was tongue-tied.

What does that mean? Well, the answer can be found here.

Simply put, Breyen’s frenulum, aka the membrane or connecting skin under his tongue is a little too far out.

Dr Lim explained that while this situation generally does not affect the baby, it may affect his speech ability if it is not corrected. Some babies may “snap” the extended skin on their own and correct the problem, but some babies will need surgery. If the surgery is done while the baby is very young, all it takes is 5 minutes and the baby does not require any anesthesia. If done at a much later stage, the child will require general anesthesia for the procedure.

At this, Ben suddenly recalled doing such a procedure when he was young.

Dr Lim told us to think about whether we wanted Breyen to do the procedure before we were discharged from the hospital. He further explained that he had learnt from his patients who are from China that this procedure is done on almost every child in China, because of the tongue movements required by the spoken Chinese language.

Ben and I discussed it for a while, and we also googled to find out more.

During this time, I noticed that while Breyen is able to latch on for breastfeeding, he was giving me much pain. The hospital’s lactation consultant had already visited me and saw that Breyen had a good latch, so i didn’t understand why feeding him was painful. It’s been 2 and a half years since I had last breastfed, and so I googled this problem.

20140508-131344.jpg This excerpt is taken from http://www.babycenter.com/0_cracked-or-bleeding-nipples_8493.bc.

Reading this, I realized that the root of my painful problem could well be Breyen’s tongue-tie issue. I shared my findings with Ben and we decided to let Breyen do the corrective procedure.

The day we were to be discharged, the pediatric surgeon came to see me in the morning and explained how the procedure will be done. He then told me that he wanted me to witness the procedure so that I knew what and how it was done. I nearly freaked out at that idea because I knew I might burst out crying, seeing my newborn baby going through a procedure. However, I agreed with the surgeon that I should have a good understanding of what was going to happen to my baby, and so I followed him to the nursery where the procedure would be done.

The nurse assisting the surgeon checked on me from moment to moment. “Mummy, you okay? Do you need to sit down?” she would ask from time to time.

The surgeon first showed me the tongue-tie, and step by step, he explained what he was doing. From clamping the frenulum to snipping it, I saw it all. Breyen was wailing from the time his mouth was forced open to when the frenulum was snipped. No anesthesia was given and once the snip was performed, the surgeon asked me to go back to my room to wait for the baby where I was to latch him on immediately to soothe him.

I walked back to my room, feeling like I had just watched a horror movie.

The comforting thing was, when Breyen came back to me, he wasn’t crying. I latched him on immediately and sat quietly with him.

Over the next few days, I observed an improvement in his latching. I was certainly feeling lesser pain, so while it wasn’t the easiest thing to witness, I was glad that we had opted to do the procedure while Breyen was still in the hospital. Because of how young he is, he got over the pain very quickly and there was no medication required.

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