Tongue Tied Breastfeeding

What is tongue tie “ankyloglossia”?

A mucous membrane called the frenulum is centred on the underside of baby’s tongue and attaches the tongue to the floor of his mouth.

A defect like this can make it look as if baby has a short tongue or sometimes no “free tongue “ A tongue-tied baby might have some problems moving his tongue up and down and side to side. A tight or short frenulum or “tongue-tie” can make it difficult for baby to feed at the breast.

Baby cannot bring his tongue forward enough to get the nipple and areola into his mouth. Newborn tongue tied babies can sometimes breastfeed without problems, as long as a proper latch can be established.

Sucking is only possible with the forward movement of the jaw and tongue, and the tongue helps for the seal during breastfeeding. In a baby will tongue tie this movement is restricted and therefore causes some sucking problems.

Nipple pain is the first sign of a tongue tie during breastfeeding.

Between 2 – 4% of all babies are born with tongue tie. Breastfeeding a tongue tied baby can be very frustrating especially if you don’t know that your baby has tongue tie.

Breastfeeding issues that could be signs of tongue tie

- Tongue tied babies cannot stick out their tongue farther than their lips

- Baby’s tongue is heart shaped at the tip

- Sore nipples, mastitis

- Tongue tie babies lose weight after birth because they are not consuming enough.

- A tongue-tied infant usually has a shallow latch while breastfeeding

- Babies with tongue tie are usually very fussy during feedings

- Breaking suction often during feedings and baby choking

- A breastfeeding tongue tied baby can sometimes make clicking sounds while feeding.

- Moms milk supply is low since baby cannot stimulate the breast to produce enough milk

- Milk usually dribbles down baby’s mouth while feeding since he cannot make a proper seal

- Baby is biting or chewing on your breast instead of sucking

Breastfeeding is not trouble-free for everyone. So problems might have zero to do with tongue-tie, in which case your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding consultant should still be able to help you and your baby with breast feeding. If you and baby have at least three of these symptoms above, and those symptoms are not GONE by the time baby is 1 week old - it is time to see a specialist knowledgeable in the frenotomy procedure.

Fix tied tongue

- Tongue tie surgery - When tongue tie starts to cause breastfeeding problems, a procedure called “frenetomy” can be done to clip the frenum.

This procedure is also sometimes called “clipping tongue”. This “frenulum clip” is shown in the tongue tied youtube video here.

There is hardly any bleeding and baby can start breastfeeding immediately after the procedure. Some doctors might say that they don’t do this procedure anymore, which is not true.

There are many doctors who still do the tongue tie operation because of its benefits for mother and baby through breastfeeding. If your doctor refuses to do the tongue tie release frenulectomy procedure you can find somebody who will.

- Wait it out – Sometimes it is possible that the frenulum will stretch out on its own as a result of baby sucking.

Severe tongue tie

This is when the frenulum is very short or when it is attached to the tip of the tongue. It may cause some speech problems later in life… if the frenulum is not cut. A tongue tied toddler might struggle with pronouncing “th, l, f, g, n, r, “

Other pages on “breastfeeding-problems” with pages related to this page on tongue tie breastfeeding

- Low milk supply

- Frustration and depression

- Mastitis symptoms

- Nipple pain

- Suck problems

- The benefits of breastfeeding

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Site by BFeeding Mamma, Tracy Behr. Currently studying through Child birth International (CBC, CBD). Also an accomplished author and Mommy of two.

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