If you’re here, you probably already know the numerous benefits of breastmilk for newborns and babies. It’s the perfect nutrition for your infant, tailored precisely to their changing needs. However, not all babies take to breastfeeding. Some babies struggle with learning to latch while others, most notably pre-term babies and those with fragile health, may have difficulty sucking. One common breastfeeding challenge is called tongue-tie, which affects nearly 1 in 20 newborns.
What is tongue-tie?
Tongue-tie, or ankyloglossia, restricts the range of motion of a newborn’s tongue, causing breastfeeding difficulties. Infants use their tongue to draw in the nipple and areola while breastfeeding. Tongue-tied babies may be unable to secure a successful latch because their lingual frenulum, the band of tissue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth, is unusually short or tight. The following signs may indicate tongue-tie:
- Tongue doesn’t stick out past gums
- Tongue mobility is limited
- Tip of the tongue may appear V-shaped or heart shaped when baby sticks it out
What are the symptoms of tongue-tie?
As you might expect, the chief symptom of tongue-tie is frustration. However, there are other signs that may indicate tongue-tie, including:
- Chewing rather than sucking on the nipples
- Inadequate weight gain
- Unusually long feeding sessions
- Fussiness during feeding
Baby won’t be the only person suffering from tongue-tie. Moms may experience it as follows:
- Painful breastfeeding
- Sore or cracked nipples
- Mastitis or engorged breasts
What causes tongue-tie and how is it treated?
Tongue-tie has been a source of medical mystery for centuries. To date, scientists are unsure exactly what causes it, but it does seem to be genetic. Furthermore, it affects male babies more frequently than females.
There are two treatments for tongue-tie: frenotomy, a basic out-patient procedure in which the frenulum is clipped by a doctor, and frenuloplasty, which is necessary when the frenulum is too thick for a snip. The former rarely requires sedation, but the latter does.
How does a breast pump ease the stress of tongue-tie?
If your baby is tongue-tied, and you’re suffering as a result, you may be inclined to abandon breastfeeding. That doesn’t mean you have to give up on the health benefits of breastmilk. A breast pump allows you to have the best of both worlds. It prevents engorgement and mastitis while maintaining a healthy supply of breastmilk for baby.
Talk with a lactation consultant and your baby’s pediatrician to get the best answers for your situation. Get in touch with Milk N Mamas Baby for the best advice on choosing a breast pump.