The medical term for tongue tie is “ankyloglossia," also called “short frenulum" or “tight frenulum."
A frenulum of the lower lip is the small piece of skin or membrane, which anchors the tongue to the bottom jaw. In babies with tongue tie, this frenulum is holding the tongue too close to the bottom jaw, interfering with the normal movement of the tongue.
A tongue tie is present from birth and may be hereditary. It is only considered a health problem if it causes breastfeeding problems.
A baby with tongue tie might not be capable of sticking the tongue out past the lower lip. The tongue usually appears heart-shaped, and bulges out slightly on the sides, as shown in the picture.
Baby makes strange clicking sounds while breastfeeding.
Mom’s breasts are engorged or infected due to insufficient milk flow.
tongue tie baby may experience other problems too, such as
displacement of the epiglottis and larynx, this can lead to increased problems while breastfeeding. These problems can cause a baby to swallow
more air during feedings. With these extra problems a mother may also notice:
Baby takes long pauses between sucking.
Baby is choking while breastfeeding.
Baby pushes away from the breast often.
Baby falls asleep at the breast.
Tongue Tie / Ankyloglossia Help
Tips for Breastfeeding a Baby with Tongue Tie
Get the frenulum cut. This is a minor procedure done by any family doctor or dentist. In this procedure, the small membrane that holds the tongue down is clipped, to give the tongue freedom to move. A baby may need some time to re-learn latching on.
Breastfeeding positions. Holding Baby more upright while breastfeeding can help pull the tongue down.
Help the latch. Stroking Baby’s tongue downwards, before a latch, can help Baby position his/her tongue.
Using a nipple shield. This can help, especially if Mom is struggling with nipple pain, due to bad tongue positioning. The shield can sometimes also help a baby latch on more effectively. A mother should plan to wean from the shields as soon as her baby outgrows the feeding difficulty.
Pump milk. A mother may need to pump milk between feedings, to make sure that her milk supply does not drop. She can feed her baby the pumped milk as an extra supplement. Alternative feeding methods can be used, if the baby is younger than 6 weeks to avoid nipple confusion.