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Tongue-tie is a condition which affects about 5% of babies. It means that the Frenulum, the portion of tissue connecting the tongue to the floor of the mouth, is too thick, short, or tight. It prevents free movement, restricting tongue movements beyond the baby’s gums. If you have a newborn with tongue-tie or ankyloglossia, it will obviously worry you. You will wonder how to breastfeed your baby if he has a tongue tie. To know more about breastfeeding a baby with tongue tie, read the article.
How Does Tongue Tie Affect Breastfeeding
It can be hard to predict breastfeeding problems associated with tongue-ties. Infants primarily make use of their tongue to latch on to the nipple of the breast. The tongue helps in getting the nipple and surrounding areola into the mouth. It also forms a seal creating suction for an infant. Tongue-tie prevents the movement that is necessary to squeeze the milk ducts for a proper flow. Also, the baby may be unable to open its mouth wide enough to get the right grasp and form a seal. The infant may face difficulty while breastfeeding.
Effects on Babies
Tongue-tie could present a variety of problems for a newborn:
1. Breast refusal
Due to tongue tie, a baby won’t be able to feed well. The lack of milk may frustrate him and he may refuse to take the breast and stop being fed at all.
2. Poor weight gain
As a result of the tongue tie, an infant will have trouble latching and he won’t get sufficient breast milk required for his proper growth and development. Therefore, it may affect his weight and he may not gain weight as per his age.
3. Disturbed sleep
Due to inadequate feeding, the infant could be irritable and may cry incessantly. His sleep may also get affected due to constant hunger.
4. Other issues
Effects on Mother
The mother of a baby with tongue-tie may also face certain undesirable complications while trying to feed her baby:
1. Sore nipples
When a baby is unable to latch properly, he may gum or chew the nipples instead of sucking, leading to cracked and sore nipples.
2. Emotional stress
If the baby is getting insufficient milk, the mother may feel guilty or sad. Her confidence and ability to breastfeed can also reduce drastically because of the stress.
3. Low supply of breast milk
4. Early weaning
Having low milk supply, cracked breasts, or a baby who seems eternally hungry can push new mothers into weaning their babies off early.
How to Make Breastfeeding Work for an Infant with Tongue Tie
Getting your infant checked for tongue-tie before leaving your hospital is a good idea. Often, a tongue-tie can go undetected and may lead to mothers entirely forsaking breastfeeding.
1. Ensure correct breastfeeding technique
Make sure that your breastfeeding position is correct for a tongue-tied baby. Watch out for the precise feeding techniques and discuss these with your lactation consultant.
2. Use Nipple shields
Sore nipples often discourage mothers from continuing their breastfeeding journey. Enquire about nipple shields and how to breastfeed a tongue-tied baby while using a shield. Pick the right size and make sure you are comfortable to prevent further breastfeeding issues.
3. Take Rest
4. Try Frenotomy
A frenotomy is a minor procedure where the frenulum is cut to free the tongue for movement. It can be performed without anaesthesia and is quick and simple. Breastfeeding after a tongue-tie cut may not solve all feeding problems within 24 hours, but eventually, mother and child learn together. Some tongue exercises are suggested after a frenotomy.
Breastfeeding a baby with tongue-tie can be a daunting task for new mothers, often leaving them feeling helpless and guilty. However, with the right support from lactation consultants, breastfeeding groups, and supportive partners, mothers can overcome the complexity and have a wonderful time bonding with their baby during breastfeeding hours.
Also Read: Lip Tie in Babies