There are many ways that a tongue-tie can affect both a breastfeeding baby and a breastfeeding mom.
One of the main complaints from mothers is sore, cracked nipples. Breastfeeding should not hurt, so many mothers who find breastfeeding painful should have their baby’s mouth checked for a tie. Experiencing pain can affect the breastfeeding relationship between a mother and a baby, often causing an end to breastfeeding altogether.
How does a tongue tie directly affect a baby?
When a baby feeds at the breast, their tongue should come out over the bottom gum line. With a tie, babies are often not able to do this. Instead of taking in the areola, they will latch only to the nipple. This is what causes sore nipples for mom.
A baby latching only on the nipple is not able to remove milk from the breast as effectively as they could if they took in more of the areola. This can lead to poor or slow weight gain causing the need for supplementation. Additionally, since the transfer of milk is affected, moms may experience clogged ducts or find that they have issues protecting and maintaining their milk supply.
Babies with ties can also be more prone to excess gas or reflux. This also has to do with the latch, as the baby may take in more air.
Mom may notice that the baby gets very sleepy on the breast easily. This is because babies with a tongue tie have to work double-time to remove milk. Sometimes feeding more frequently, but for shorter periods of time. On the flip side, some babies may nurse for an hour at a time and never seem satiated.
In older children, untreated tongue ties can also cause issues:
-speech and articulation problems
-sometimes even ADHD symptoms that stem from poor sleep and breathing.
For the breastfeeding mother, ties may cause:
– nipple pain or discomfort
– misshapen nipples after a feeding often referred to as a “lipstick” nipple.
– clogged ducts or engorgement
The bright side is that tongue ties are manageable and treatable with the care of medical professionals and lactation consultants. If you notice any of the above in yourself, baby, or child please consult a professional.