Breastfeeding And Tongue Tie: Overcoming the Challenges

Tongue tie

Tongue tie can make it harder for babies to breastfeed (and sometimes bottle feed). It’s when the strip of tissue, called the ‘frenulum’ (attaching the tongue to the floor of the mouth) is shorter than normal. Tongue tie can prevent your baby from latching on properly – which can then lead to sore or cracked nipples.

Symptoms

Tongue tie can cause breastfeeding issues

Tongue tie is a condition no mother, especially a breastfeeding mother! No mother wants her baby to have this condition because it can cause issues for breastfeeding. It can even affect a child’s self esteem because it can make them talk a certain way that could be embarrassing. . Cases of tongue tie can range from mild to severe. If severe, the tongue may be completely fused to the floor of the mouth. You may be able to see if your newborn or baby has tongue tie by looking into their mouth when they’re yawning or crying, although it’s not always easy to spot. Signs of tongue tie in your baby might include:

  • your baby’s tongue doesn’t lift or move from side-to-side
  • their tongue may look heart-shaped when they stick it out
  • difficulty breastfeeding or bottle feeding (and weight gain may be slow)
  • frequent, long periods of feeding – but they seem unsettled and unsatisfied

There are many signs that a baby is having problems with breastfeeding and they may be related to tongue-tie:

  • nipple pain and damage
  • the nipple looks flattened after breastfeeding
  • you can see a compression/stripe mark on the nipple at the end of a breastfeed
  • the baby fails to gain weight well

You won’t necessarily have all these signs when you are having a problem and they can all be related to other breastfeeding problems and not necessarily related to tongue-tie. If you experience any of the signs above, you may wish to call the National Breastfeeding Helpline to speak with a breastfeeding counsellor or consider contacting a lactation consultant.

Can tongue tie affect breastfeeding?

Absolutely yes! Tongue-tie and breastfeeding. In some cases the tongue is not free or mobile enough for the baby to attach properly to the breast. Tongue-tie occurs in 4-11% of newborns and is more common in males. Some babies with tongue-tie are able to attach to the breast and suck well. However, many have breastfeeding problems, such as nipple damage.

A baby needs to be able to have good tongue function to be able to remove milk from the breast well. If the tongue is anchored to the floor of the mouth due to a tongue -tie, the baby cannot do this as well. The baby may not be able to take in a full mouthful of breast tissue. This can result in ‘nipple-feeding’ because the nipple is not drawn far enough back in the baby’s mouth and constantly rubs against the baby’s hard palate as he feeds. As a result, the mother is likely to suffer nipple trauma.

How does tongue tie affect breastfeeding mums?

However, many have breastfeeding problems, such as nipple damage, poor milk transfer and low weight gains in the baby, and possibly blocked ducts or mastitis due to ineffective milk removal. Why is a tongue-tie a problem for breastfeeding? A baby needs to be able to have good tongue function to be able to remove milk from the breast well.

  • your milk supply may reduce, as your baby is not latching on and feeding well
  • you may have sore or cracked nipples, which can make breastfeeding painful
  • poor latching on and ineffective feeding may lead to engorged breasts – which can then lead to mastitis

Not all babies with tongue tie have no problems at all. They may still be able to latch on and feed well – so not every case of tongue tie needs treatment.

If your baby does have tongue tie, it will hopefully be picked up in the first routine check by your midwife. However, tongue tie is not always easy to spot and may be discovered at a later stage (usually after feeding issues become apparent).

Diagnosis And Treatment

A website or virtual breastfeeding forum can’t diagnose a tongue-tie, your baby needs a face-to-face consultation with a specialist. A good place to start is by seeing an IBCLC lactation consultant who will take a full breastfeeding history—and assess both breastfeeding and tongue function. Your pediatrician can also diagnose tie tongue. Surgery is sometimes necessary.

If treatment is necessary, your baby will have a straightforward procedure called a ‘frenulotomy’. This is carried out by specially trained doctors, nurses or midwives – and is very quick (it takes a few seconds). Generally, no anaesthetic is used. The surgery simply involves snipping the short, tight piece of skin connecting the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. As soon as it’s done, you can feed your baby (which helps to heal any bleeding).

Bottom Line

Tongue tie can certainly affect breastfeeding, making it harder for mothers to breastfeed. We know that no mother wants to discover that her newborn baby is tongue tied. Knowing the signs is the key to helping your baby to be diagnosed with the condition. There are varying degrees of tie tongue. Depending on the severity , surgery may be needed. I hope that you learned something today that will help you. Thank you for stopping by and do come again. Please like, or comment this post if you really like it and share. This website contains affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission  from products and services you purchase through my links at no extra cause to you.


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