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Tongue Tie and Breastfeeding: How It Affects Infants and Mothers

Teaching breastfeeding correct technique is essential in modern awareness of the need for it in baby’s well-being. Successful breastfeeding requires that both the baby and mother not merely be willing, but also can effectively pair. Tongue-tie is one of the most common causes of difficult breastfeeding. Tongue-tie is a medical condition in which a baby has an excessively tight lingual frenulum which makes it hard for them to move their tongues freely, usually observed in utero and mostly during the first visit to the pediatrician. Infants with tongue-tie may have problems attaching to the mother and tend to fatigue more quickly during breastfeeding.

All infants are born with a short membrane at the bottom of their mouth connecting the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. This membrane is called the lingual frenulum. For many babies, this membrane is normal and does not interfere with feeding or swallowing. However, some babies have a shorter or tighter frenulum, a condition known as tongue-tie or tethered oral tissues (TOTs).

Symmetry and Positioning of Lips, Tongue, and Jaw during Feeding

When breastfeeding, the infant’s mother needs to make sure that both the baby’s lips are symmetrically positioned around her breast. This security should be maintained throughout the baby’s sucking to prevent air from entering the baby’s mouth. In addition, she needs to ensure that tongue–jaw stability is maintained throughout the baby’s sucking in order to help promote breathing and swallowing mechanics and facilitate effective drainage of milk from the baby’s mouth.

However, for a baby with tongue-tie, getting suction and effectively extracting milk to trigger the greater nerve stimulation and hormonal cascade that augments and sustains the mother’s milk production can be difficult. The baby may need to work significantly harder when latching on and during the feeding session.

Managing Tongue-Tie to Improve Breastfeeding

While not all tongue-tied babies will have difficulty breastfeeding, many will, particularly infants in whom the frenulum is shorter or more tightly connected to the tongue and mouth. There are many support strategies and treatment options available to help improve a tongue-tied infant’s ability to breastfeed.

One of the most important steps is to ensure that the baby latches onto the breast properly. Minor modifications to latching can make a significant difference in the comfort of both the baby and the mother. In addition to proper latching, many mothers find that using a lactation consultant can be helpful when dealing with a tongue-tied infant.

Laser Therapy for Tongue-Tie

Laser therapy has become a popular option for treating tongue-tie in recent years. During the procedure, a small, handheld laser is used to eliminate the short frenulum connecting the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. This treatment is minimally invasive and causes very little discomfort for most infants due to a lack of noise, heat generation, or physical contact with the tissue.

In addition to being minimally invasive, laser therapy can be very effective. The procedure can be performed quickly, often taking less than fifteen minutes, and can result in an immediate improvement in the baby’s ability to breastfeed. Both the baby and mother also tend to experience increased comfort during breastfeeding after the treatment.

Impact of Tongue-Tie on Parents’ Well-Being

Tongue-tie can have a significant impact on the parents’ overall well-being in addition to the challenges it presents to the infant. It can cause no end of worry and concern as well as feelings of inadequacy, depression, and anxiety. In many cases, the parents may feel like they are overwhelmed and alone in dealing with the situation.

In order to help parents manage the stress and emotions that come with having a tongue-tied infant, it can be helpful to seek out social support, such as community headings or online groups. There are also many resources available to help parents understand the condition and the treatment options available.

Treating Tongue-Tie to Promote Breastfeeding

Tongue-tie can make the breastfeeding experience more challenging for both the infant and the mother. However, with the right treatment and support, most tongue-tied babies can have a positive breastfeeding experience.

In addition to understanding the options for treatment for tongue-tie, it can be helpful for parents to look for ways to mitigate the stress and anxiety that comes with having a tongue-tied baby. With the right treatment and support, most parents can come to terms with their baby’s tongue-tie and have a positive breastfeeding experience.

Tongue-tie and breastfeeding may seem overwhelming at times, but with the right information and support, most parents can become confident breastfeeding a tongue-tied baby.