Breastfeeding and Tongue Tie
Have you breastfed a baby with a tongue tie? There seems to be varying opinions among health professionals as to the impact that a tongue tie has on breastfeeding; I think it would be good to gather our experiences here to help support mums' of babies who have a tongue tie.
A tongue tie is when the skin which connects the tongue to the base of the mouth is too short; this restricts the movement of the tongue. There are some useful online resources that explain how this can have a negative effect on breastfeeding such as this Information from the Royal Women's Hospital, Victoria and Unicef's information for parents' on tongue tie.
Tongue tie can make breastfeeding uncomfortable for the mum and cause the baby to feed for a long time (in many cases, well over an hour a feed) as well as feed frequently. This is because a tongue tie may cause:
- an inefficient latch: the baby will then not be able to remove breastmilk efficiently and so will feed for extended times
- because of the poor latch, a baby will feed off the nipple - this causes pain to the mum (which can be intensely uncomfortable)
- this can then lead to a mum feeling negative about breastfeeding and even finding it difficult to bond with her baby
- the nipple may be misshapen after breastfeeding - this in turn makes getting a good latch more difficult, and the negative breastfeeding cycle continues
- if a baby is not able to drink enough breastmilk they will not put on weight as quickly as expected or may even start to lose weight
A tongue tie can be solved by a simple cut which is thought to cause little discomfort to the baby. It can be carried out in the home, by a trained professional, using sterile scissors. In other words, it is really quick and easy to solve!
It's important to note that not all tongue tied babies have problems breastfeeding. This is why it would be great to read your experiences here. How did your baby's tongue tie affect breastfeeding? Did you have any of the problems described above?
Both of the boys have had a tongue tie. With my first, it caused us incredible problems. He fed for hours and hours at a time and I was in a lot of pain and ready to give up. Once the tongue tie was diagnosed (at 3 weeks of age - an eternity when you are struggling as a new mum) and cut everything changed. I heard him glugging down the milk for the first time! With my second son, I had him checked straight away for a tongue tie - this was found shortly after birth. However, we have had absolutely no problems with feeding! So we didn't get it cut, and I tandem fed my two boys for some time and now mainly breastfeed just my youngest.
I look forward to reading your experiences of tongue tie and breastfeeding.