Breastfeeding Hurdles: Newborn Tongue Ties
If you’ve ever even attempted to breastfeed, then you well know many factors play into a successful breastfeeding relationship. It goes far beyond a decision, willpower, or stamina. Sometimes there are physical hurdles that can endanger the ability to continue nursing.
We previously discussed Mastitis as a breastfeeding hurdle, which you can read about here.
Today, let’s chat about newborn tongue ties: what they are and how they can affect breastfeeding.
A tongue tie is when the frenulum – the piece of tissue attaching the tongue to the floor of the mouth – is too short, too tight, or too thick and therefore restricts movement of the tongue. Tongue ties occur in 3-11% of babies and are more commonly found in boys.
A tongue tie may not sound serious, but it can actually cause a rapid decline and cessation of breastfeeding.
Here’s why: First, the baby is unable to open his mouth widely enough to obtain a proper deep latch. Instead of being latched onto the breast itself, he or she would latch only to the nipple, which OH MY WORD – so painful! In addition to that, because the baby’s tongue can’t fully stretch over the lower gumline, the nipple is further agitated by the gums instead of being cushioned by the tongue. Due to the improper latch, there is not a good seal created around the breast and the baby can become unlatched easily and unintentionally, and milk may dribble out of the his or her mouth. This disrupts intake of milk which can cause gassiness and reflux in the baby.
Not even the most strong-willed mama would have much of a fight left against a tongue tie. Not only is the mother negatively impacted, but the baby is not receiving adequate milk and nutrition which means he or she can begin to experience weight loss and show signs of failure to thrive. Basically, in these cases, no one is looking forward to feeding time. It’s no wonder that these babies often wean early, right?
Good news! Thankfully, a tongue tie is easily fixed. It only requires a quick snip of the tie by a physician. What’s important is recognizing the signs and getting it fixed immediately so it does not have the opportunity to threaten the breastfeeding relationship.
If you think your baby may have a tongue tie, look for these signs:
- Painful latch/latch only onto nipple
- Breaking suction repeatedly during nursing sessions
- A clicking noise during feeding due to poor suction
- Milk dribbling out of your baby’s mouth
- Gas and/or reflux
- Heart shaped tongue, or indentation at the tip
- Baby seems generally dissatisfied – may be fussy at the breast or fussy after feeding
If you have any suspicion of a tongue tie, schedule an appointment with your lactation consultant or pediatrician as soon as possible so they can evaluate your baby and treat accordingly. Get second opinions if necessary. Be diligent so you can protect your breastfeeding relationship!
Don’t forget! If you’re expecting and in need of a breast pump, Wyatt’s staff is here to help you with the entire process. Just click THIS LINK to get started!