Dana Marie Crum

I was a mother of two, a step-mom to one, ages 3,4, & 5, and expecting one more! So much was already going on in my life and I know my stress level was far from low. I had no I idea what lie ahead. I had breastfed my first two children so it was definitely a no brainer I was going to nurse my new bundle. After successfully nursing two kids it was the least of my worries, in fact I was looking forward to it.
When my little bundle was born she took right away! Yay! Everything seemed to be going great. When we came home I seemed to be nursing her around the clock. I mean constantly! I was getting no sleep myself. She went for a check up at three days old to double check her slight jaundice and she weighed in at 6.13lbs(born @ 7.8lbs). At her first week weigh in I expected her to be her birth weight at the least, and so did her doctor. Instead she came in at 6.13 again. I couldn’t believe it considering she ate all the time. I was scheduled to come back in a week to check her weight again and she hadn’t gained any. At this point my nipples were sore from the constant nursing, I was exhausted from no sleep and I was not a fun mom any more to my other kids. I knew something was wrong but the doctor didn’t seem alarmed and didn’t give me any reason to worry.
In the back of my head I knew something was off, but didn’t know what. As the days went by and I did everything I knew to try to get the baby full but she was never satisfied. I remember saying to my husband that her suck felt different, and at the next appointment I was also gonna ask about colic. On top of all of this my nipples would hurt so bad that I would kick the floor, scream and even cry when she latched. I had called the Lactation Consultant where I delivered and she gave me some pointers that seemed to work well, but they still where tender in the shower and against my shirt. Sucking up all the pain and the lack of sleep at the next appointment she only gained an ounce! The doctor said to me like it was no big deal that I needed to start supplementing because my supply was low. I immediately cried "No! That’s not my plan!" My husband, defending me, asked about other options. So now I had to start pumping. At that point I didn’t care I just didn’t want to give her formula. I pumped and pumped and pumped, she still wasn’t getting enough. After four weeks of all of this my supply WAS low, but why? I had no option but to give her some formula because now I knew her cries were hunger. I broke me down to my lowest point to have to put a bottle of formula to her lips. I still cry thinking about it.
Things just didn’t make sense so I called the LC again but she was on vacation. So I decided to call the LC I used with my previous kids and no answer there. I needed answers now. A friend of mine recommended the La Leche League. I started first with the one in my area and no answer. I made 3 more calls until I finally got ahold of Melissa Cawley from the Mechanicburg La Leche League. This was fate! She said my symptoms sound like a tongue-tie. I thought yeah right the "doctors would have noticed". She told me about other types of tongue tie less familiar to most doctors and sent a link for me to check out. After reading the info I was already totally convinced she was tied! I headed straight to Shannon and she confirmed! This was a celebration because I finally had an answer! Being hooked up to a pump around the clock was killing me and I did everything I was told to up my supply.  
Shannon suggested Penny Soppas, MD, IBCLC (because she is an expert on posterior tongue tie) who was a little pricey and was a bit of a drive away, and she also suggested a runner up to get my baby clipped. Due to Dr. Soppas’ schedule I would of had to wait a month to get in, so I went with the second best. This doctor did the procedure a little different then I had read about and I wasn’t quite prepared for it, but I was excited for this mess to be over. Well things got a little better, but my baby still couldn’t fill up from nursing alone. She started showing signs of not wanting to feed on me and just wanting a bottle. Then I was introduced to the Supplemental Nursing System. Not a fun thing, but helped my baby stay off the bottle. I was still falling apart inside because my baby still couldn’t nurse alone without using the SNS.
My days were full of pumping, feeding and cleaning the darn SNS and that’s about it. I knew I wouldn’t feel better until I saw Dr. Soppas. At wits end and starting to loose the support at home, I went to a LLL meeting. Again it was fate I attended, because another mom gave me her appointment with Dr. Soppas so I only had to wait a few more days. Two weeks after seeing Dr. Soppas I started noticing improvement. After 3 weeks my baby was finally nursing on her own!!! This is by FAR the hardest thing I have gone through. Without the support of my husband, Shannon and LLL, I don’t know where I would be. Thanks to all the help my family and I got to enjoy a beach vacation NO strings attached (via pump and SNS)!

Kendra B.

"About two weeks after the birth of our son, Jude, I realized we needed a little help in the breastfeeding department. I called Mary, my trusted midwife, and she referred me to Shannon. I had a home birth, so finding a lactation consultant in the community was a little more tricky than calling up our local hospital. I am grateful that my midwife was connected with such a knowledgeable, passionate lactation consultant. Thankfully, Shannon was able to see Jude, Joshua, and me at Om Baby within days of my initial call. She spent as much time as was necessary correcting our issues and addressing concerns. Shannon connected us with wonderful parenting events and organizations in our area that we are eager to explore. Even after our initial visit, Shannon continues to be an invaluable resource whenever we think of a new question. I think that lactation consultants are an indispensable resource to breastfeeding mothers, and I am proud to have Shannon as a member of the birth community of Central Pennsylvania."

Cynthia Cornett

"From the very first feeding after my natural birth, breastfeeding was painful.  It felt as if he was smashing my nipples and chewing with his gums.  Three lactation consultants came and went while I was in the hospital.  Nothing they suggested helped with the pain but they assured me it would get better if we would only practice our latch. We had taken a class about breastfeeding and read everything we could get our hands on to help prepare us for feeding our baby.  But nothing could have prepared us for what was ahead.

"With each feeding I had intense pain.  The pain radiated through my back and stiffened every muscle in my body down to my toes.  I cried as I fed my baby.  I dreaded the next feeding.  I felt like the worst mother in the world.  This was not what breastfeeding was supposed to be like.  It was supposed to be a loving, intimate moment between mother and child as she provides nature’s perfect food.  Instead it felt like self-inflicted torture.

"Six days after Dexter’s birth I went back to the hospital for an outpatient visit with a fourth lactation consultant.  She watched as I got situated, how I positioned him, and how I helped him latch.  She assured me that I had done nothing wrong.  She then watched as the pain shot through my body curling my toes and sending tears streaming down my face.  She stopped the feeding and as Dexter turned his face away from me we all saw the blood that smeared across his cheek.  I was horrified.  She then said the words I knew were coming and dreaded to hear; “You have to stop breastfeeding.”  My already broken heart was shattered.  I had taken along my breast pump knowing it would probably come to that.  She took the first bit of milk and showed my husband how to start suck training.  I sat there, pumped, cried, and felt so defeated.  I just couldn’t understand how something so natural and good could be so painful - physically and emotionally.  She gave us information to contact Shannon Lilienthal, a private practice lactation consultant that has experience with tongue tie.

"I know pumping was necessary to keep up my milk supply and to feed Dexter, but it was horrible.  It was a constant reminder that I was failing as a mother.  It created twice as much work at feeding time and made me feel isolated from my new family.  It was so mechanical and unnatural.  Many times I sobbed through pumping knowing I couldn’t feed my child the way God intended.

"I had already asked our pediatrician about the possibility of tongue tie and he dismissed the idea.  Dexter was healthy and gaining weight, which was all the doctor was concerned about.  The problem was that he was gaining weight from a bottle.  What about the mother-infant bond?  What about the physical pain I was going through trying to do the right thing for my family?  When he started talking about formula again, I knew where he stood.

"Four days after the return visit to the hospitall, I called Shannon because the suck training seemed to be getting us nowhere.   During the consultation she observed that Dexter lacked mobility in his tongue, which is consistant with a type 3 posterior tongue tied.  She also showed us that his labial frenum under his top lip was also tight.  She told me the story of her own son's tongue tie and offered hope.  Shannon suggested that I attend the next meeting of La Leche League, a group of breastfeeding mothers, which could offer support.  She referred us to doctor experienced in diagnosing tongue tie. Making the decision to ‘slice and dice’ my newborn was not easy.  What if it didn’t work?  Was I being selfish?  NO!  I wanted the best for my son.  I had to know that we did everything possible before I gave up my dream of breastfeeding.   I took the first available appointment which was ten days later.  By then I had reached the end of my rope.  Something had to change or I wasn’t going to make it. 

"Without the proper support, it makes sense why so many mothers give up breastfeeding and why so many more don’t even try.  This was the most trying and difficult thing I have ever been through.  Weeks of crying, pumping and heartache led us to having Dexter’s tongue and top lip clipped.  With the help and support of people like Shannon and the women of La Leche League, we are now successfully breastfeeding.  Two months after Dexter’s birth I was able to put away the pump and I began to enjoy feeding my son.  Finally I could become the mother I had always envisioned."
Maria Freeman

"When my daughter was born 2 years ago, I had every intention of breastfeeding her.  My mom had breastfed me, I took the breastfeeding class, I just assumed it was natural and things would fall into place.  She was seriously jaundiced and we had to wake her for each feeding.  We were given a nipple shield in the hospital, but never had much luck even with that.  I was advised to pump and finger feed with a syringe.  I did, and kept attempting to nurse with the nipple shield, but things never clicked.  After five weeks I started feeding the pumped milk by bottle and gave up on breastfeeding "from the tap".  I pumped for six months and then switched to formula.
"My son Rhys was born when my daughter was 17 months old.  I was determined that things would be different.  I was proud of providing breastmilk to Eleni for as long as I did, but it was extremely stressful and I did not to exclusively pump again.  Rhys was also jaundiced and we ended up using nipple shields.  After a frustrating start, he took to nursing (with the shields) once my milk came in.  Every time I tried to wean from the shields, I would be in awful pain.  It felt like he was chewing my nipples and everytime I would break the latch, my nipple would be deformed.  Sometimes it would look like the tip of a lipstick, other times it was smashed into other funny shapes.  I ended up with thrush and it felt like there was broken glass in my nipples.  I tried everything this time - I went to lactation consultants at two hospitals, I went to La Leche League meetings in two different cities, I searched the internet.  I decided to try one more visit at Harrisburg Hospital and was advised she and the other LCs there couldn't really be of any more help to me.  She suggested that I try without the shields again for two weeks, and then think about chiropractic treatments.  She then said that she didn't want to get my hopes up, but that she knew of a private practice International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Shannon Lilienthal, whose son had a special type of tongue tie and that it was remotely possible that my son had the same problem and that she might be able to help.  I couldn't bear the thought of waiting another two weeks - I knew things were not going to get better and I was sick of dreading feedings.  I used to cry during some, it was so incredibly painful. 
"I contacted Shannon and at the during the consultation she her experienced eye identified the lack of mobility in my son's tongue. She explained to me do matter how skilled I was at positioning and latch, he was going to continue to damage my nipple because his tongue was not able to nurse normally.  Shannon shared her own story of struggles with having a son with tongue tie and gave me a articles on posterior tongue tie, a less obvious tongue tie. Working with Shannon I was able to see that there was hope for me to reach my breastfeeding goals. 
"The doctor Shannon referred us to was wonderful.  She diagnosed the tongue tie and clipped his frenulum.  She had me nurse Rhys again immediately afterwards and I could already feel an amazing difference.  I was still sore for around a week due to the nipple trauma, but every day got better and better.  I still get teary when I think of what an ordeal it was.  Once his tongue was fixed, he started gaining weight faster and feedings were quicker.  Best of all, I enjoyed feeding my baby.  We have such an amazing bond that I worried would not be possible.  I am so glad that I didn't give up at any of the obstacles.
"I realize that posterior tongue tie is relatively uncommon and because of that many doctors may not be familiar with the benefits of correcting it.  In terms of waiting to see if things "resolve over time", I think I am one of the "oldtimers" who waited the longest to fix the problem.  In almost three months, nothing resolved itself.  My baby struggled to nurse and I was in excruciating pain.  Everything was fixed with a quick snip.  He cried for mere seconds and stopped as soon as he latched on.  There were no further tears and no blood after nursing."

As shared on Facebook

Mona Patel

"Thank you Shannon for returning my phone call so promptly and answering all of my questions...you were really a tremendous help with your wealth of knowledge...thank you once again!"
- November 3, 2010 
Jason Bettio

"Shannon was a HUGE help for my wife and her knowledge has helped us both tremendously. Feeding is now much easier and more relaxing for my wife minimizing her stress. She also provided me with a different position to carry our baby around which he not only enjoys, makes him feel at ease, but also helps me avoid getting spit on. A fantastic consultation!"
- October 6, 2010 
Lauren Coyle

"Shannon has assisted me in my journey to correct a breastfeeding relationship made difficult by tongue tie. Her story, so similar to my own, has given me answers that two breastfeeding groups, three doctors, two specialists, and four other lactation consultants have been unable to give. I am not sure I would have continued if not for her."
- August 9, 2010
Marija Krpan Kuren

"Shannon is WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!! has been a great resource!!! Very knowledgeable and easy to talk to!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!"
- March 16, 2010