Thursday, 22 March 2012
My 8 month old has been through nine bouts of illnesses in the past six months. Most of the time Leroy gets hit with multiple things. In early February, I finally gave in and quit my job. I felt guilty that I was going to work, while Leroy was at daycare getting sick. I felt guilty that I wasn't breastfeeding and thought, "this wouldn't be happening if I had ignored the pain and stuck with breastfeeding."
When I began working on the medical history section in Leroy's baby book, I realized that none of our pediatricians have ever spoke about Leroy's tongue.
When I was little, I was diagnosed with Ankyloglossia, also known as tongue-tie. It is a common genetic disorder where a child's frenulum (where the front of your tongue attaches to your mouth) is too short or not elastic enough. It can cause children to speak with a lisp, have dental problems, drool, and most importantly have difficulty breast feeding.
I had problems with breastfeeding from the beginning. I spent hours with nurses and lactation consultants trying to "get the latch right." Leroy either wouldn't latch or he would latch and it was extremely painful, even with a nipple shield. I swear, Leroy gave a sigh of relief when I finally gave him a bottle.
I realize now that Leroy is most likely tongue-tied. If the pediatrician had caught this in the hospital, they could have "clipped" Leroy's frenulum immediately. It is a simple and almost painless procedure. It was painless and untraumatic for me, when I had it done as a child (I got to eat Jello and watch movies for a few days!). But I had no idea that the condition could be taken care of so early and I definitely had no idea that it was related to breastfeeding difficulties.
I still take responsibility for this. I should have done research before giving birth and I should have made sure that the pediatrician was aware of the condition. I should have done more research before I gave up breast feeding. I am glad that I am aware of this and intend to find a pediatrician who will agree to perform the procedure immediately if my next child has the same condition.
But considering that it is a relatively common disorder, why aren't we being educated about this in breastfeeding classes? Why aren't pediatricians asking parents about this? Why aren't pediatricians monitoring breast feeding progress to identify structural problems? Why aren't lactation consultants aware of this problem?
Has anyone else heard of this condition or had experience with breastfeeding an infant with this condition?