Tongue and lip ties
Tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) is a condition whereby there is a thin piece of skin under the babies’ tongue that is abnormally short. This can restrict the movement of the tongue. As a tongue-tie can interfere with a baby’s ability to suckle efficiently at the breast it can often, but not always, interfere with breastfeeding.
It’s important you get someone to flick the lip if you have any of the tongue-tie indications, as undiagnosed tongue-tie can cause a lot of breastfeeding/feeding problems.
They are more commonly found in boys and often run in families. Many babies with tongue-ties also have lip ties, and lip ties are often easier to notice.
Indications of a significant tongue-tie early on
- Nipple pain and damage (however baby can have a significant tongue-tie and you can have no pain or damage)
- A misshapen nipple after breastfeeding
- The baby often loses suction whist feeding and sucks in air and often has increased gas. Often babies with a significant tongue tie are unable to stay on the breast without your help and are on and off during feeds.
- A clicking sound may be heard whilst the baby is feeding
- Poor weight gains
- The baby is unable to feed well, and they often struggle with a bottle as well
Indications of a significant tongue-tie later on
- Misshapen nipple after breastfeeding
- Baby is still taking a long time to feed, on the breast or bottle
- Mum getting lots of blocked ducts, and maybe mastitis
- Weight gains drop off without an obvious cause.
If you find out your baby has a tongue- tie and/or lip tie and you’re having difficulties feeding it’s important to seek lactation help if you’re breastfeeding. If you have health insurance you should be able to see an ENT specialist quite quickly. There tends to be a wait for a public consultation but this depends on where you are located. Head for a fantastic Treatment provider list from NZ Tongue Tie Information
You will also find that many people have differing opinions around tongue-ties; some believe they have an impact some don’t. As a mother you know your child best and if you feel like something’s not right seek help, especially if you’re having problems breastfeeding. Get a second option if you need to. See below links to some mothers’ feeding journeys with tongue-ties.
Some medical practitioners suggest sniping (scissor surgery) and some laser surgery. Each method has their pros and cons. It’s best to ask your specialist about this in depth, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.
After the release of a tongue-tie or lip tie
Many babies, especially those whose tongues tie are released early on, feed better.
For other babies, especially those who are diagnosed later on it, the procedure is not always a quick fix.
Basically your baby needs to learn to use their tongue again. Whether they are breastfed or bottle-fed they will need to learn to feed again and this takes time. Patience, lots of skin on skin cuddles and doing the tongue exercises can all help immensely. Many women find they require lactation support post release.
The key is time, it will take time and while some releases will improve breastfeeding, not all will.