How do I know if my baby has a tongue tie after birth?

  • Your baby shows difficulty in latching to your breast
  • Your baby has difficulty staying attached to your breast for a full feed
  • Your baby is feeding constantly and they seem to take over an hour
  • Your baby is fussing excessively with gas
  • Your baby seems hungry all the time
  • Your baby is not gaining weight
  • Your baby is making a clicking sound as they feed

Mothers with babies who have tongue ties can also experience painful and cracked nipples, low milk supply or even get mastitis (inflammation of the breast).

What is a tongue-tie and a lip-tie?

A tongue tie is a condition present at both where there are pieces of connective membranes under the tongue and behind the upper lip called frenula. Everyone has a lingual (tongue) frenulum and a labial (lip) frenulum, which means that if your baby has one, it doesn’t automatically mean that you are going to have breastfeeding challenges.

It is how the tongue and upper lip function that determine if the frenula are causing a problem. A tongue-tie restricts the tongue’s range of motion. It is a short band of tissue between the tip of the tongue and the floor of the mouth, which is present at birth.

How do tongue and lip-ties cause breastfeeding challenges?

When the frenula are tight, they are like rubber bands, tethering down the tongue to the base of the mouth or the upper lip close to the upper gum line. This makes it difficult to move the tongue in an effective manner of flanges the upper lip out. Babies then fall off the breast, as they are unable to form a good seal and suction, causing difficulty in latching which could result in baby refusing to breastfeed.

What are the implications of a tongue-tie and a lip-tie?

  • Babies struggle to breast feed due to a shallow latch
  • Reflux in babies
  • Low milk supply in the mother
  • A tied tongue may have difficulty in performing movements needed for dealing with solid food
  • Affect tooth alignment
  • A lip-tie makes teeth brushing painful which may cause cavities
  • Tongue-tie restricts movement of the tongue that is needed to clean the outer surfaces of the teeth
  • Speech problems and lisping

What is the treatment?

Tongue-ties can be treated by cutting the tie on the conventional manner via a pair of surgical scissors or scalpel. There are however more modern techniques whereby a laser is used, which is a more effective treatment plan as there is no bleeding, the healing time is quicker and the post operative pain is less.