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  • Writer's pictureMegan Cottrell

I Think My Baby Has a Tongue Tie: Where Should I Start?

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

We’re so excited to share this new video with you that contains testimonials from two different moms whose babies have come to see us for tongue tie and feeding issues.

At The Craniosacral Center of Grand Rapids, treating tongue tie is something we specialize in, and we love being able to help families and see the incredible progress their children make. Today, we’re going to walk you through what the process of getting treatment for a tongue tie looks like.

Because we treat so many babies for tongue tie, our practice offers a 3-month all inclusive package for tongue tie treatment that includes our tongue tie video course in addition to as many treatment sessions as your child needs to resolve their issue. But many parents come to us unsure of how the bundle works or how the treatment process will play out. Using more of these testimonial interviews, we’re going to demystify the process.

What is a Tongue Tie and How Can Craniosacral Help a Baby With a Tongue Tie?

A tongue tie, also referred to as ankyloglossia, is when the frenulum (the small piece of connective tissue under your tongue) is tight or short, restricting the tongue’s movements. This inability to properly use the tongue makes it difficult for the baby to adequately breastfeed, leading to low weight gain and/or painful nursing for the mom. Common symptoms of a tongue tie include poor or shallow latch, clicking sound while nursing, gassiness, grunting, fussiness, cracked or sore nipples or nipples that are creased, flat or blanched after nursing. Because tongue tie isn’t widely known among doctors, midwives or pediatricians, the problem can often go undiagnosed, leading to extreme frustration and exhaustion for parents.

The most commonly prescribed treatment for a tongue tie is a physical release of the tongue, done either with a scalpel or with a laser to physically remove excess tissue and allow the tongue to move more freely. But while this treats the immediate cause, it misses the underlying midline tension within the body’s tissues that keep a baby from being able to nurse effectively. Most parents who get their baby’s tongue tie revised or released see little improvement in their symptoms, or sometimes even see symptoms worsen.

Craniosacral therapy helps resolve a tongue tie by releasing the underlying midline tension within a baby’s body, allowing their body to relax, their central nervous system to calm and their muscles and tissues begin to work as they should to feed effectively. While the entire process takes a couple of months, the vast majority of families who go through treatment see results even within one session.

How Do I Start The Process Of Getting My Child Treated For A Tongue Tie?

We recommend beginning treatment by setting up a newborn intake session in our online booking system or by calling or texting our office. In this first visit, the therapist will sit and talk with you about your experiences — the symptoms you and your baby have been experiencing, about their birth and any other relevant information. Then they’ll explain more about what a tongue tie is and the process of treating it.

“Kelly explained the anatomy and physiology of why I was dealing with what I was dealing with,” says Chelsea Hall. “She met me at a place where I was at a complete loss. I was exhausted. I hadn’t slept in months. She walked me through that and explained why. She talked about the process and just started working with Selah right then and there.”

The extremely gentle process of craniosacral therapy took physician assistant Chelsea by surprise. More accustomed to the traditional approaches of Western medicine, craniosacral seemed mysterious, but she couldn’t deny its effectiveness.

“I didn’t really know what was happening, but I could see in my child this sense of relief instantly,” said Chelsea. “It was the most incredible thing and it almost brought tears to my eyes. Then that night, it was the first time that she actually slept more than 45 minutes at a time. And then every session after, she just started sleeping better and better.”

After that initial session, if you decide you want to purchase the 3-month treatment package, the cost of your initial session will be deducted from the package price.

When Should We Start the Treatment Process for a Tongue Tie - Before or After a Tongue Tie Revision?

Although our practice is willing to see your child at any point in the tongue tie treatment process, before or after a revision, we highly recommend starting craniosacral therapy before getting a revision done. Receiving craniosacral therapy before the revision makes the process go a lot more smoothly and normally end up being more successful.

Chelsea and her baby Selah had already been through one revision before coming to see Kelly.

“Her first tongue tie release was around two months old. We had no therapy before or after, and the tongue tie grew back and grew back stronger. Her symptoms continued — fussiness, gas from swallowing a lot of air, not eating full feeds, overall body discomfort. She was just on edge,” says Chelsea.

Before getting another release, she was told to try craniosacral therapy, and so they began the process two weeks before the second revision was scheduled.

“We did two weeks of working with Kelly twice a week. We went back to have the release, and right away, she was a lot more comfortable. She fed right away. She was sleeping through the night,” said Chelsea. “We continued doing craniosacral after the release. The recovery process has been so much smoother and so much more successful.”

For some babies, treatment with craniosacral therapy has been enough to release the tension in their bodies to the point that they don’t actually need a surgical revision! It all depends on the level of tension and tissue attachment, which varies from child to child.

Why Do We Need Three Months Of Treatment For A Tongue Tie?

We created our three month treatment package in response to what we saw with our clients and their needs. Too often, clients were trying to schedule as few treatments as possible in order to save costs or only thinking about the very next step, but then not getting as positive results. Instead, we try to look at the treatment process as a whole - preparing the whole family for the release, noticing tongue mobility and overall body tension, optimizing the timing of the release, wound recovery, tongue strengthening, and the nursing transition from a hormonal supported supply to a more functional supply supported by an adequate latch. That entire process takes about three months from start to finish.

We’ve seen the most positive results for tongue tied babies when we stack treatment intensely for the first few weeks and then slowly space treatment out as we see function improve. With the bundle, families know they can complete the entire treatment regimen without having to constantly be evaluating whether or not they can wait longer for the next session. This also eliminates decision fatigue at a time where many parents are exhausted and stressed.

Although most families see a difference within their baby even within one session, for those results to be long lasting, a longer treatment regimen is necessary. Tongue ties often have both a genetic and physical component and the tension within a baby’s body builds up for months in the womb and after birth and thus takes time to completely resolve. Three months allows this tension to slowly unwind and for the body to find new, healthier patterns to balance itself.

What other help do we need for treating a tongue tie?

Your craniosacral therapist is just one member of a team of providers who can help you with a tongue tie. For best results, we recommend working both with your healthcare provider (midwife, pediatrician, etc.), a pediatric dentist and an international board certified lactation consultant with experience with tongue ties. Remember, a diagnosis of a tongue tie involves two gloved fingers checking the tongue for both adequate lift and extension. Kelly doesn't diagnose a tongue tie but can refer you to competent providers that we work with regularly. Because Kelly has been working in this field for years, she has excellent recommendations for the best providers in West Michigan, as well as good relationships with those providers so they can consult on the best course of treatment for each individual. Having a team of trusted professionals who know and respect each other makes treatment much more holistic and successful.

Not Sure Where To Start? Book an Intake Session

If you suspect your child has a tongue tie because of nursing problems or other symptoms, the first step would be to book an infant intake session. Kelly will listen to you and assess where you are in order to make recommendations as to what to do next. If you’re stressed and overwhelmed, have already been to multiple providers who didn’t have any solutions for you — you are in the right place. Kelly has met many parents exactly where you are and helped them find calm and resolution for themselves and their child.

“Kelly has answered more questions than many other individuals that we’ve seen. She’s able to speak on the physiology and the anatomy of what tongue tie does,” said Chelsea.

“Just sitting with her while she does the therapy is almost therapy for me because she’s able to explain to me what she’s doing and what I should expect,” said Chelsea. "She walks me through what she’s feeling with Selah. She explains why she’s acting how she’s acting and what she’s doing. It’s incredible!”

At CSTGR, we are ready to meet you right where you and your baby are at and guide you through the process of resolving a tongue tie, one step at a time.

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