Tongue tie can make it harder for babies to breastfeed. It's when the strip of tissue, called the 'frenulum' which, attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth, is shorter than normal. Tongue tie can prevent your baby from latching on effectively. Sue Ward, Infant Feeding Lead at Medway Community Healthcare talks to us about tongue tie and what to do if you think your baby has a tongue tie.
Signs of tongue tie in your baby might include:
- your baby's tongue doesn't lift or move from side-to-side
- their tongue may look heart-shaped when they stick it out
- difficulty breastfeeding or bottle feeding (and weight gain may be slow)
- frequent, long periods of feeding – but they seem unsettled and unsatisfied.
How does tongue tie affect breastfeeding women?
- your milk supply may reduce, as your baby is not latching on and feeding well
- you may have sore or cracked nipples, which can make breastfeeding painful
- poor latching on and ineffective feeding may lead to engorged breasts – which can then lead to mastitis
- Sometimes, babies with tongue tie have no problems at all. They may still be able to latch on and feed well – so not every case of tongue tie needs treatment.
Tongue tie will normally be diagnosed at a local specialist breastfeeding clinic – these are available via an appointment from your local health visiting team in Kent and Medway. There are some local breastfeeding drop-ins that also offer tongue tie consultations, please check what is available in your local area on the support page.
If treatment is necessary, your baby will have a straightforward procedure called a 'frenulotomy'. This is carried out by specially trained medical staff. It’s very quick and generally no anaesthetic is used. The surgery simply involves snipping the short, tight piece of skin connecting the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. As soon as it's done, you can feed your baby, which will help to stop any bleeding and heal the area.