Round and Round the Rugged Rock the Ragged Rascal Ran
Tongue tie: a tongue twister and a riddle all rolled into one!
The luxury of sticking my tongue out, blowing raspberries, licking an ice cream, even snogging never really dawned on me, until my baby had a tongue tie. We need our tongues to loll about from the get go otherwise it can have a dramatic affect on feeding, be it breast or bottle.
A tongue tie is when the bit connecting the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth is shorter than usual. This restricts the movement of the tongue which in some circumstances can affect a baby’s ability to feed. Tongue tie effects around 10% of all babies, with boys more likely than girls to be effected.
These tight tongues stop babies getting a good gob full. Breastfeeding requires the baby to protrude their tongue enough to cover the babies lower gum, protecting your nipple from gum damage (ouchy) and creating a 'good latch'. If the baby can’t do this then the nips are in for a rough ride.
What to look out for?
- Difficulty latching, or staying on for a full feed.
- Unsettled babies who feed for longer periods and appear to require more feeds than usual.
- Poor weight gain
- Clicking sound when feeding.
- Sore nipples
- Low milk supply
- Spooning heart shaped tongue that the baby cannot protrude.
What to do?
After you have a baby, you go through this totally disinhibited phase where you are more than happy for any health care professional to look at your fanny and check it’s ‘OK’. We are slightly more protective of our new bundle of joy, and I certainly wanted to limit the number of people poking and prodding him. However, I suggest that you apply your new found liberalism to your mini’s mouth. If you have even the slightest concern then get a second opinion. Ask to be seen by someone who deals with TT on a daily basis. Remember, there are lots of causes for the ‘common signs of TT’. A lot of these signs can be attributed to being a new breastfeeding mama learning to master the trade.
To treat or not to treat. If your mini is feeding well, and you have no pain or nipple damage then there is no real point in treating the tongue tie. Many mini’s will stretch it out in the early years by putting objects in their mouths, like a teething ring......(LOL) only joking we all know its their shoe, your phone or the remote control!
However, if you are having any problems then the tie can be snipped. To us this sounds horrific, but new born babies have very few nerve endings on the frenulum. Some babies actually sleep through the procedure. Some may cry, but on the whole it is thought to be a painless procedure (except for the mamas) and is done without pain relief. After the cut is made, there maybe some blood but this will stop quickly and feeding will help this. Your mini may have a small white diamond shape under their tongue for a few days whilst the area heals.
Feeding whilst you wait for the snip?
- Get expert help; lactation consultants, specialist nurses, paediatricians and even dentists can help.
- Biological nurturing
- Get help with deepening the latch – you need to get as much breast tissue into the mouth as possible.
- Encourage natural stretching - babies copy, so try sticking your tongue out at them.
- Take care of the nips – article to follow.
- Nipple shields - a crazily divisive subject! We say, don't struggle, if feeding isn't working then there is no harm in trying and they may well help.
That's a wrap but if you feel that we've missed a tongue tie trick or a great website then get in touch via Your Voice!