Tongue-tied & Breastfeeding
What is Tongue-tie “Ankyloglossia”?
A mucous membrane called the frenulum is centered on the underside of a baby’s tongue and attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth.
defect like this can make it look as if the baby has a short tongue or
sometimes no “free tongue. “ A tongue-tied baby might have some problems
moving the tongue up and down and side to side. A tight or short
frenulum or tongue-tie can make it difficult for a baby to feed at the
A baby cannot bring the tongue forward enough to get the
nipple and areola into his/her mouth. Newborn tongue-tied babies can
sometimes breastfeed without problems, as long as a proper latch can be
Sucking is only possible with the forward movement of the jaw and
tongue, and the tongue helps for the seal during breastfeeding. In the case of a baby who has this problem, the movement is restricted and, therefore, causes
some sucking issues.
Nipple pain is the first sign of a tongue-tie during breastfeeding.
Between 2 – 4% of all babies are born with tongue-ties. Breastfeeding a
tongue-tied baby can be very frustrating, especially if you don’t know
that your baby has this problem.
Breastfeeding Issues that could be Signs of Tongue-tie
- Tongue-tied babies cannot stick out their tongues, further than their lips.
- The baby’s tongue is heart-shaped at the tip.
- The mother has sore nipples, blocked ducts and/or mastitis.
- Tongue-tie babies lose weight after birth because they are not consuming enough milk. How to tell if your baby is drinking enough.
- A tongue-tied infant usually has a shallow latch while breastfeeding.
- Babies with tongue-tie are usually very fussy during feedings.
- Suction is often broken during feedings, and the baby chokes or makes clicking sounds while feeding.
- The mother's milk supply might be low, this is because milk transfer is hampered and not enough milk is being removed from the breasts.
- The milk might dribble down the baby’s mouth while feeding since he/she cannot make a proper seal.
- The baby is biting or chewing on your breast instead of sucking.
A breastfeeding relationship 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
If you and your little one are experiencing at least three of these
symptoms mentioned above, and those symptoms are not GONE by the time your baby is 1
week old, it is time to see a specialist, who is knowledgeable about the frenectomy
procedure. (snipping the skin under the tongue, to free the tongue)
Fix Tied Tongue
- Tongue-tie surgery. When it starts to cause breastfeeding problems, a procedure called “frenectomy” can be done to clip the frenum.
- This procedure is also sometimes called “clipping tongue” or “frenulum clip.”
- There is hardly any bleeding, and the baby can nurse immediately after the procedure. Some doctors might say that they do not do this procedure anymore, which is not true.
- Many doctors still do the operation because it allows the mother and baby to continue to breastfeed. If your doctor refuses to do the tongue-tie release frenectomy 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 the baby's sucking.
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 to pronounce “th, l, f, g, n, r, “