Scott A. Siegel, MD, DDS, FACS, FICS, FAAP

Northeast Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, PLLC

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Tongue-tie & Newborns: Ruby's Story

Posted on March 29, 2014 at 8:00 AM

"Tongue Tie & Newborns: Ruby's Story" details the challenging journey from birth through aftercare of my three week old, breastfed tongue tie patient, written by her mother. -Dr. Scott Siegel


My daughter Ruby was born full term on February 4, 2013. I knew I wanted to breastfeed her, though my mommy friends prepared me that breastfeeding is not a walk in the park. I tried nursing her right away the best I could. Ruby quickly lost 9% of her birthweight in the hospital, so the lactation consultant specialist was sent in to improve my latch. I got some great tips and Ruby began to put weight back on. Unfortunately, my nipples were already incredibly sore. In fact, by the time we were discharged Ruby's cheeks and chin were red and chapped from chaffing against my cut up nipples.


At Ruby's first few pediatrician appointments she gained weight, however I continued to be in so much pain. When Ruby would latch on, my toes would curl, my breath would be knocked out of me, and my body would tense. I would feel her tongue flicking against my nipple, I'd hear clicking, and I'd see her mouth slowly slide off. I followed all my mommy friends' advice. I used lots of lanolin and got frozen gel pads, but nothing really helped much. Not being able to take it, I started calling lactation specialists and arranged for an appointment with one.


At this point Ruby was two weeks old. We worked on a few different latches. Then, upon looking in Ruby's mouth, she said, "tongue tie." She explained that Ruby couldn't get a good latch and my nipples were broken down because Ruby's frenulum was too tight, preventing her from having the freedom to stick her tongue out far enough and to lift her tongue up to the roof of her mouth. She referred me to Dr. Scott Siegel for an evaluation. I felt so upset and confused after she left. My husband and I didn't want to hear that our peanut of a newborn needed a procedure. We called Ruby's pediatrician and were left even more confused because he said that she didn't need an evaluation and that frenulums stretch with time.


In the meantime, I googled tongue ties and Dr. Siegel and spoke with my mom who's a speech pathologist. My mom suggested going for the evaluation because if there was a tongue tie, it could possibly affect speech and oral development. I decided to email Dr. Siegel, venting my confusion about the conflicting opinions of the pediatrician and lactation counselor. Dr. Siegel wrote me back right away and he provided his work and cell phone numbers. When my husband and I called Dr. Siegel, he was so kind. He patiently answered all our questions. He wasn't pushy in the least. He was extremely empathetic and understanding about our confusion and worry. We continued to agonize over what to do, so I invited one more lactation specialist over. After being told again that Ruby has a tongue tie, we made an evaluation appointment with Dr. Siegel.


Ruby was three weeks old when we met Dr. Siegel. He took us right away. Just like on the phone, he was kind, gentle and understanding. He let me hold Ruby while he looked in her mouth. He was very sweet, making me feel comfortable and in the right hands. Dr. Siegel confirmed that there was a tongue tie, a posterior one. He again explained to us how the laser procedure worked and he answered all our questions. I felt selfish and awful that I was going to put my baby through a procedure just to ease my pain. But the truth was I wouldn't have been able to continue nursing. I had reoccurring milk blisters. Also, if we didn't do anything we risked Ruby having future struggles. We left to think about it. Dr. Siegel invited us to call or text with any more questions.


As upset as we were, we decided to proceed. Dr. Siegel saw us the next day. Ruby was now in her third week of life. During the procedure, Ruby stayed in her carseat and I got to sit on the chair with her. I looked away and cried as Dr. Siegel performed the laser procedure, but the whole time I heard Dr. Siegel's calm voice saying, it's okay, you're doing great, almost done. As soon as it was over Dr. Siegel said, "You can hold your baby and reassured us that it went great. His assistant handed me tissues and then they gave us space to try and nurse.


Before leaving, Dr. Siegel gave me some instructions and said again to call or text. Since I had been quite shaken up, I couldn't process the instructions, so I did text Dr. Siegel that afternoon. In fact, I texted him a lot over the next 48 hours with questions and concerns. Each time he replied with encouragement and understanding. It took Ruby about 36 hours to nurse again and during that time I agonized and second guessed my decision. It helped so much to hear Dr. Siegel say to be patient and hang in there. When Ruby did once again latch on I was so relieved and happy. Dr. Siegel made sure to tell me to keep in touch over the weekend to let him know how Ruby was doing.


Over the next week, Ruby's latch really improved and my prior nipple damage healed. Ruby was able to open her mouth wider and to maintain a deep latch! I now breastfeed without any pain. I now know we made the right decision as parents to correct our daughter's tongue tie. We are so grateful to Dr. Siegel for all his kindness and support through our first really challenging time as parents. The information provided here is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Categories: Patient Stories- Tongue and Lip-tie