What is it?
A tongue tie is a tight or shortened lingual frenulum, which is the membrane that runs centrally from the underside of the tongue to the lower part of the mouth.
When this membrane is too short or too tight, it restricts movement of the tongue. The degree of severity can vary, based on how much of the tongue is restricted.
How can I tell?
Diagnosis by a professional, like a lactation consultant is needed, but there are some signs you can be on the lookout for.
- Difficulty latching at all, or latching deep enough to properly remove milk
- Breastfeeding constantly
- Poor weight gain
- Clicking sound while breastfeeding
- Fussy at the breast
- General fussiness
- Pain during feeds
- Damaged nipples - compressed or distorted after feedings
- Engorgement and clogged ducts
- Milk supply may begin to decrease since milk is not being removed
What do I do?
If you suspect a tongue tie, have your baby evaluated by their doctor or by a lactation consultant as soon as possible.
If a tongue tie is found, a procedure can be done to release the tie, allowing the tongue to move more freely. Your baby may experience temporary soreness that could cause some reluctance to nurse. Many moms choose to pump milk during this short time to maintain their supply and allow their nipples to heal from any damage incurred. Additionally, your baby will likely need to learn how to latch properly, which may take some babies longer than others.
A tongue tie release is not necessary for every baby with a tie. If it’s determined that your baby does not need the procedure, a lactation consultant can work with you to resolve or at least alleviate the breastfeeding issues you’re experiencing.
Most importantly, know that a tongue tie diagnosis does NOT mean your breastfeeding journey has to end prematurely. Get help!
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Book Lactivate! A User's Guide to Breastfeeding by Krause/Rosenthal