Why does a tie affecting breastfeeding? A restriction or “tie” prevents the baby from properly latching to the breast. This can be caused by a combination of factors including the baby not being able to open his or her mouth wide enough, the tongue isn’t able to cup around the breast, or the tongue cannot move in the ways needed to efficiently extract the milk. Instead of breastfeeding, the baby ends up “Nipple Feeding”.
Understandably, this can result in a very frustrated mother and baby. Some babies can breastfeed efficiently with a restriction, but many will struggle with breastfeeding and even bottle feeding.
Here are some signs you can look for:
Your baby is having difficulty latching or staying latched at the breast
Your baby “chomps” or “chews” the nipple, rather than sucking
Baby’s top lip can not flange around the top of the breast
Your baby is making a “clicking” noise during feeding
Baby is sucking, but not swallowing or you may see milk dribbling out of baby’s mouth
Your baby may stay at the breast for a long time, sucking inefficiently, getting frustrated or even falling asleep but wanting to eat again shortly
Your baby seems to always be unsettled or unsatisfied, even after being at the breast for long periods of time
Your baby may be gaining weight too slowly
Your Baby may have the same trouble staying latched or maybe “chewing” on artificial nipples
A baby may take a very long time to remove milk from a bottle
Mom may have nipple pain, even cracking or bleeding
Mom may feel pain or a pinching feeling throughout the feeding
The nipple may be misshapen when the baby breaks latch – often looking flattened on one side, like a tube of lipstick. You may even hear the term “lipstick nipple” used when speaking about ties
Mom may feel very full after feeding like no milk was removed
Mom may experience frequent clogged ducts or Mastitis
Mom may notice her supply starting to dwindle because milk is not being removed efficiently
It is important to remember that all these things can be signs of a tongue or lip tie, but ties are not the only thing that can cause these things to happen.
Not all breastfeeding issues are caused by ties, and most can be resolved by something as simple as a position change or supporting your baby differently as they come to latch at the breast. If you are experiencing any of the above and feel like your breastfeeding struggles may be caused by a Tongue or Lip Tie, it is very important to get professional help. A Lactation Professional can help support you and refer you to a doctor or dentist who can properly diagnose and treat a tie if necessary.
If you need help finding lactation support in your area, we are happy to help connect you with someone.