What to Know About Tongue-Tie

April 10, 2014
What to Know About Tongue-Tie

Tongue-tie is one hidden hindrance that can make breastfeeding difficult or even impossible for some moms and babies. When a baby has tongue-tie, their frenulum (the piece of skin that connects their tongue to the floor of their mouth) is too short and restricts the movement of their tongue. This can lead to breastfeeding issues because baby may have a hard time creating a good latch.

Why is baby’s tiny tongue such a big deal? The infant tongue plays an important role in latching because baby needs to move their tongue forward and over their lower gum in order to draw the nipple deeply into their mouth. If baby’s tongue can’t move freely over their gums, they might not be able to create and maintain a seal, which can hinder their ability to remove milk from the breast. For moms, this can be very painful and can even lead to cracked and bleeding nipples because baby is latched poorly and chewing rather than sucking on the nipple.

Because babies with tongue-tie may not be able to get enough milk, they might want to breastfeed every hour or more, but then get fussy and cry after feeding because they’re not satisfied. In turn, mom can develop low supply issues due to baby not fully emptying the breasts.

Here’s the good news: Tongue-tie is easily treated by a safe and simple procedure to release the frenulum. If you think your baby may have tongue-tie, reach out to a Lactation Consultant or your pediatrician. They can help identify and treat tongue-tie, and create a plan for breastfeeding success.

How did you manage breastfeeding a little one with tongue-tie? Share with us in the comments below.

19 thoughts on “What to Know About Tongue-Tie

  1. I dealt with the pain – cracked nipples, bleeding, etc. – and by the time my baby was a month old it was no longer an issue. The problem had corrected itself.
    She’s almost 5 months old now and I’m still breast feeding her successfully. She’s an incredibly healthy, and happy, baby! I couldn’t be more pleased with the decision we made in NOT having her frenulum cut.

    • Hi Jaime,

      Thanks for sharing your story – it’s important to recognize that everyone’s breastfeeding journey is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to tongue-tie. Happy to hear that you’re going on 5 months, congratulations!

      Kathy

  2. Hi!

    Our pedia cut a piece of that frenulum when she noticed baby’s tongue tie – while Baby was screaming. I was not aware of the effect of tongue tie or how to tell if a tongue is tied.

    After more than 11 months baby is still exclusively breastfed and shoes no sign of stopping. :-)

    • Hi Weng,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with tongue-tie. Keep up the great work – it’s fantastic to hear that you’re still going strong at 11 months, way to go!

      Kathy

  3. I didn’t get to the right doctor before my daughter was 6 weeks, and we had the frenulum done then. It took several weeks afterwards before breastfeeding became comfortable and she was getting enough (we had to supplement with formula). I worked in pediatric dentistry for awhile and recognized that the frenulum was pretty pronounced, even before our nurse practitioner did. It could have resulted in speech issues later on, so I’m glad we did it. Just wish we would have been able to do it sooner! (Oh, and the one thing that the doctor didn’t tell me was that I could give her Tylenol–he said she shouldn’t have any problems, and by that afternoon she was uncomfortable. With a couple of doses of Tylenol, she was fine.)

  4. I had three of my kids with tongue-tie. You can still breast feed your baby, you just have to open their mouth wide before you latch. If not it can be very painful feeding. I would gently pull down my baby’s chin and open his mouth wide and place him where I was comfortable to nurse. My boppy came in very handy so I could place him on that so I had an extra hand to hold boob while holding chin open.

  5. Hi,

    The hospital’s lactation consultant was the one that noticed my son’s was tongue-tied. I asked for the lactation consultant because I was having pain, cracked, bleeding nipples. After two pediatricians treated my son at the hospital the only one that notice he was tongue-tied was the lactation consultant on the day we were being discharged by the hospital. Five days after being discharged we took our son to a pediatrician surgeon to have his tongue untied (procedure took less than a minute) because our pediatrician can not do those procedures in the office. My son’s weight was back to normal within a couple of days and he breastfeed for 1 year and 3 months (Thanks to Medela’s pump that made it a little easier to pump at work for over a year).

    • Hi Carolina,

      Thank you for sharing your story and congratulations on breastfeeding for over a year! We’re happy to hear that you had a good experience with Medela.

      - Kathy

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