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Everything you need to know about tongue-tie and breastfeeding your baby

Tongue-tie is easily diagnosed and treated
Tongue-tie is easily diagnosed and treated
Creative commons (Rick Kimpel)

Tongue tie has been called "the undiagnosed bane of breastfeeding" and can lead to many breastfeeding problems for both mother and child.

What is tongue-tie? Breastfeeding Basics explains:

The medical term for the condition known as tongue-tie is “ankyloglossia”. It results when the frenulum (the band of tissue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth) is too short and tight, causing the movement of the tongue to be restricted.

Tongue-tie is congenital (present at birth) and hereditary (often more that one family member has the condition). It occurs relatively often: between 0.2% and 2% of babies are born with tight frenulums.

Breastfeeding can be significantly impaired when a baby has tongue-tie. Some of the issues that are associated with tongue-tie for both mother and child include:

  • trouble with latch-on
  • low weight gain
  • fussiness
  • painful breastfeeding
  • plugged ducts
  • impaired milk supply
  • speech issues later in childhood

The good news is that there are excellent resources to help you learn how to know if your baby has tongue-tie and what you can do about it.

Here are some of the best.

KellyMom, the leading breastfeeding site on the internet, offers extensive information about tongue-tie. Sections on the site include:

  • Breastfeeding a Baby with Tongue-Tie
  • Great basic info on breastfeeding and tongue-tie
  • Q&As
  • Moms’ stories
  • In-depth and professional information
  • General articles (not breastfeeding related)
  • Journal Articles is a new site created to help educate breastfeeding mothers and health care professionals about how tongue-tie can affect babies and their nursing mothers. The site is run by Dr. Bobby Ghaheri, a specialist based in Portland, Oregon who specializes in helping babies with breastfeeding difficulties. He has personal experience as a father with the tongue-tie issue, as both of his daughters had significant problems breastfeeding.

Recent posts on the site include:

  • How to Examine a Baby for Tongue-Tie or Lip-Tie
  • Breastfeeding Difficulty and Family Support
  • The Myths About Painful Breastfeeding
  • Breastfeeding Should Not Be Painful
  • A Breastfeeding Mom's Symptoms Are as Important as the Baby's
  • Weight Gain is Not the Only Marker of Successful Breastfeeding
  • Not All Breastfeeding Problems Are Caused by Tongue-Tie
  • Diagnosing Tongue-Tie in a Baby is Not a Fad

Other excellent links for more information:

Tongue-tie can cause serious issues for both mother and child, but it can be fairly easy to deal with. As with most things, education and awareness are key in helping both mothers and babies thrive.


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