Are you having trouble breastfeeding your baby? If you are experiencing pain or your tongue-tied baby has difficulties latching during breastfeeding, you’re probably wondering what there is you can do about it.
Breastfeeding challenges can occur for a number of reasons, and a tongue-tie can make things especially difficult. Tongue tying can affect breastfeeding in a variety of ways, but fortunately, there are things you can do to make the process easier.
If you’re looking for some tips to breastfeed a tongue-tied baby, we are here to help. Read further down this post for everything you’ll need to help breastfeed a tongue-tied baby!
What Is Tongue-Tie?
Ankyloglossia, also called tongue-tie, is caused by the presence of a short lingual frenulum, the small bit of skin connecting the tongue to the floor of your mouth. When this occurs in babies, the tongue’s range of motion is greatly reduced, potentially causing difficulties with breastfeeding.
Tongue-ties are typically more common in baby boys, but it is not impossible for girls to have this issue. Tongue-tie is linked to genetic causes, so if you or the other members of your family had tongue-tie as babies, it may be more likely your little one will have the same issue.
How To Know If Your Baby Has Tongue-Tie?
If you are having trouble breastfeeding and suspect that tongue-tie is to blame, what can you do to identify it? Really the best way is to bring your baby on a trip to the doctor’s office. Once there, they should be able to reliably identify if the problem truly is a tongue-tie, and if it is not, they should be able to determine a different cause.
Still, there are some signs that you can look out for that may help in identifying whether a tongue-tie is to blame:
- Baby struggles to latch
- Painful latch
- Difficulty moving tongue
- Clicking/smacking sound when feeding
- Milk leaking during breastfeeding
- Poor weight gain
- Baby is often hungry/fussy
- Lack of suction
Various other difficulties might also be the result of improper feeding due to a tongue-tie. These issues can result in some frustrations on the mother’s end, but this can also affect the mood of your baby, as they may become frustrated at the difficulty of getting enough food. As always, we encourage visiting a doctor if issues with feeding persist.
How A Tongue-Tie Affects Breastfeeding
Tongue-ties can affect breastfeeding in various ways, and some babies with a tongue-tie are able to breastfeed without having any issues or are able to do so after a few corrections. But any baby with a tongue-tie is likely to have their ability to breastfeed properly affected in some way.
Some things the mother may experience while breastfeeding a tongue-tied baby:
- Damaged nipples
- Painful feeds
- Compressed/misshapen nipple
- Lowered milk production
How To Breastfeed A Tongue-Tied Baby
We always think that it is best to consult a doctor if you suspect your baby is running into any problems breastfeeding. But if that appointment isn’t for a few days, or you want to try some fixes yourself first, here are some tips on how to successfully breastfeed a tongue-tied baby.
Using A Breast Pump
Before you consider turning to formula, consider using a breast pump to express milk. This will help to mitigate engorgement, while also letting you continue to provide your baby with natural breast milk. This will save you from having to deal with swollen, achy breasts while keeping your baby well-fed, a win-win.
While this is not a permanent fix for moms who want to encourage feeding directly from the breast, this will at least give them a temporary fix for feeding while they work to figure out a solution with their doctor.
Adjust Breastfeeding Technique
Another consideration could be to make some adjustments to how you approach breastfeeding the baby. It’s unlikely that it will go perfectly every time, especially in the beginning, but if you keep trying, you might find some success.
One strategy that is often taught by lactation consultants is to tap the baby’s lower lip with your nipple. This should make the baby open wide and stick their tongue out (this could be a problem for babies with a severe tongue-tie). You will need to wait until the baby opens their mouth widely before you start to try engaging the latch.
Once they do, rest the baby’s chin on the lower part of the areola, and place your nipple right into their mouth. Most recommend starting the latch just beneath the nipple to encourage a tight latch.
This is just one of the ways that you can adjust your breastfeeding technique, but try searching around…you never know what could end up working for you.
Another option to consider is having a Frenotomy done. This is the name of the process where the tongue-tie is medically cut. This is a simple and fast procedure that can be performed on most babies with little risk. This procedure is commonly performed on infants when the tongue-tie affects their ability to breastfeed properly.
During this treatment, the doctor will hold the tongue in an upward position to make the skin tight. Then using medical instruments the tissue is swiftly cut, ending your baby’s tongue-tied state! Normally, there will only be a little tiny bit of blood, so parents won’t have to worry about any significant recovery time following the procedure.
The procedure should also not result in any pain, so no need to worry for your baby. Often it can be done without anesthetic and should heal up exceptionally quickly.
Tongue-tied babies can be difficult to breastfeed properly. With low tongue mobility, their ability to latch and suckle from the breast is reduced, possibly causing pain while feeding, fussiness, low milk intake, and various other issues. This can be stressful for new mothers, but looking out for the signs of this issue and taking a baby to the doctor can really help solve this problem for good.
We hope some of the tips above will help you to mitigate some of the frustrations you might run into. Remember, you are not alone. Plenty of women go through troubles during breastfeeding. Be patient, and most importantly, be kind to yourself. Good luck Mom!