How a Tongue Tie Affected My Breastfeeding Experience

As I prepared for our fourth baby, I was nervous about a lot of things (capacity, sanity, my supply of Tucks pads) but nursing wasn’t one of them. Sure, I wasn’t looking forward to the toe-curling pain those first weeks or the relentless evening clusterfeeding. But I knew eventually it would become a painless routine that I loved with each baby.

When Sweet Caroline was born, it felt like we couldn’t get a good latch. I saw a lactation specialist in the hospital who reminded me (through manhandling my breasts) of the ways to appropriately position a 6-pound baby. Before we even left the hospital though, my nipples were raw and bleeding. I asked my midwife immediately for the  prescription Newman’s nipple cream — the most miracle ointment there ever was!

But it didn’t get better. I braced my whole body each feeding as she latched on, followed by searing pain. Determined not to give up, I attended the breastfeeding support group at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. The nurses identified her shallow latch and recommended nipple shields and LilyPadz to help me heal.

Still, it didn’t get better, and anticipating the pain every two hours was affecting my already fragile mental health.

Eventually, I gave in and exclusively pumped. Not having established my supply yet, I pumped enough milk to fill the bottom drawer of my freezer. Never had I ever had EXTRA milk to store up for later! But it wasn’t the satisfying bonding experience I knew nursing to be and with three active older siblings, pumping sessions every two hours felt impossible to fit in.

About that time, I had a two-week check-up with my midwife, who was the one who suggested I see a pediatric dentist. “If you’ve nursed three babies successfully, it’s usually the baby, not the mom with the problem,” she told me.

It was then that I connected with Dr. Wayne Dobbins at Sweet Tooth Pediatric Dentistry. He called me late in the evening, sympathizing with my tears of frustration. The next morning, we were evaluated in the office, and he identified Caroline’s severe tongue tie and minor lip tie.

He gently explained my options and success rates for possible procedures. I was able to call my husband so he could come be in the room with her while I anxiously sat in the lobby. She was swaddled snugly in a sleep sack while Dr. Dobbins used a laser to sever the ties. My husband described as something out of a Star Wars movie.

She was a little fussy that night, but back to herself within a few days.

Except for one thing was different — she nursed. And when she nursed, I didn’t have pain. It was truly that immediate of a switch.

We found our rhythm. I healed, established a reasonable supply, and we haven’t had a single painful nursing session since. In fact, at 10 months, I have nursed her the longest without needing to supplement of all my babies!

Not all breastfeeding challenges can be attributed to ties. There are so many problems a lactation consultant can help troubleshoot. Sometimes the process of working through pain or other challenges isn’t worth it for every mom. And that’s OK.

But for those who are determined to continue breastfeeding, it is worth a visit to a pediatric dentist to make sure you’re giving you and your baby the best chance possible for a healthy nursing relationship.


Sweet Tooth Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, providing exceptional treatments with locations in Shawnee, Overland Park, Olathe and now open in the Northland! Book those summer appointments now!

Sarah McGinnity
Sarah grew up in Manhattan, Kansas (Go Cats!), she moved to Minnesota where she met her husband, Shea. Realizing how much she hated snow in May, she convinced him to move to Kansas City in 2010. Together they have lived in Midtown, Waldo, the Plaza, and now Overland Park. Sarah is mom to 10-year-old, Henry, 7-year-old Clark and 5-year-old Lucy. She has her master’s in urban administration and is passionate about making Kansas City a more equitable and supportive community. In between the crazy, she likes to drink coffee, run, hike, travel as much as possible, and experience all things Kansas City!