Tongue-Tied babies can have many issues breastfeeding. While many babies with this issue do breastfeed well, many other do not. And, if left undiagnosed and untreated, it can cause many moms to stop breastfeeding, leading them to formula feeding sooner, when all that was really needed was a simple procedure. Many common issues with breastfeeding, such as a painful latch and slow weight gain, can be explained better with tongue-tie and not an incorrect latch as is commonly thought. This is why knowing about the issue of tongue-tied babies is very important, especially for a new or pregnant mommy.
First of all, we need to identify what tongue-tie is. The medical name for tongue-tie is ankyloglossia and it is a condition where the frenulum (that piece of skin under the tongue that attaches it to the mouth) is either too close to the front of the mouth OR is too tight or short for the tongue to have a lot of ‘free tongue’ movement making it difficult to feed (I found this here at LLL). While it is possible to feed a baby this way, it can cause a lot of issues, and there are many times when the baby uses the jaw to ‘bite’ the nipple to eat instead of sucking, causing jaw fatigue, a painful nursing session, or, if the baby doesn’t get enough milk, failure to thrive. Many of these issues lead discouraged mommies to turn to formula, when it isn’t really needed (besides, if the baby is severely tongue-tied, they won’t even be able to bottle feed well).
Tongue-tied babies need to be diagnosed and treated by a specialist. In fact, there are many pediatricians who not only don’t want to diagnose this condition, they don’t feel it needs to be treated. And that can cause an issue for mommy and baby. Tongue-tied babies have been VERY common for years and used to be routinely treated in the early 20th century. However, once it became common practice to formula feed, that fell out of practice (again, you can find that information here). With breastfeeding on the rise, the treatment of tongue-tied babies needs to be on the rise as well. In fact, once the frenulum is divided for treatment, some babies are able to latch right away with a noticeable difference.
Never, ever feel like you are wrong for pursuing a diagnosis and treatment of this condition if you are having trouble breastfeeding. Your local La Leche League can help you if you need it. Maxillofacial surgeons, ENT doctors, and a FEW pediatricians are able to help you diagnose and treat your baby’s tongue-tie condition. So, if you’re having a lot of trouble breastfeeding and feel like this could be your problem, by all means, pursue it. Never feel like you have to succumb to formula if you don’t have to just because your baby isn’t latching properly.