Babies are occasionally born with tongue tie, an overly tight lingual frenulum, that can affect breastfeeding. When tongue tie gets in the way of breastfeeding, it is important to get help since the condition is treatable. A tiny clip in the lingual frenulum can help.
Signs that baby has tongue tie that affects breastfeeding: - baby cannot latch firmly to the breast - baby often chokes on the breast milk - baby is not gaining enough weight - baby has a heart-shaped or bowl-shaped tongue - baby gets frustrated while nursing - baby struggles to stay latched - you hear smacking sounds when you nurse.
Symptoms for the mother
The most prominent symptom in the mother is that breastfeeding is painful when baby has tongue tie. Other symptoms include:
- sore nipples
- low milk supply despite nursing frequently, and it takes a long time to nurse
- the nipple is crooked after nursing (looks like a new lipstick)
- vasospasms while nursing.
What to do
A tight frenulum stems from the fetus stage. It fills no real function and can therefore be clipped. The frenulum is clipped by a pediatrician or an ear-nose-throat specialist. Your child health clinic or breastfeeding clinic can write a referral.
How it’s done
Baby should be full when the procedure is carried out. Using a little syringe, he or she will be given a sugar solution to swallow and a local anesthesia under the tongue. The tongue is lifted up and a quick incision made in the frenulum. Most often the baby cries and there is only a drop of blood.
We recommend giving the breast immediately after to calm the baby. The mother can occasionally feel the difference in breastfeeding immediately after, but it could also take some time. Try to be patient. There is generally no noticeable change in baby after the procedure. Baby might be fussy the first day and a little sore. If your baby seems to be in pain after the procedure, you can administer pain medication in consultation with your physician.
Recently, it has been discovered that lip tie can cause similar difficulties and can also be clipped. There is clinical data about this, but not enough scientific studies as yet.
If you suspect your baby has lip tie
Many times, tongue tie is not the only issue that makes breastfeeding a challenge. Other issues can play a part, such as baby’s breastfeeding position. Contact your maternity ward, child health clinic or breastfeeding clinic first. Problems can usually be resolved without a procedure.