World Breastfeeding Week: My daughter was tongue tied

This week Halton Region celebrates World Breastfeeding Week. The theme this year is “Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers.” This is the second of two posts about how support with breastfeeding was key for my breastfeeding success.

Without asking for help EARLY, we couldn’t have done it.

My Pumpkin was born in the morning. Her first night of life was spent frantically nursing all night long. The next day I had cracked and bleeding nipples. Each breastfeed was getting more painful than the last.  I couldn’t understand. I was doing everything right, everything I had been trained to do. But I could see that Pumpkin couldn’t get her upper lip to flange out, even when I tried to cheat and pull it out for her. Plus she was sliding off the nipple, making loud sucking noises at the breast and had dimpling in her cheeks.

Infant with tongue tie as shown on http://www.nhs.uk

Before I delivered I wrote a blog post promising myself that I would ask for help early if I needed it.  It can be tough to ask for help especially with something that is supposed to be “natural.” But true to my word I met with a lactation consultant that day. She immediately saw that Pumpkin had not only an upper-lip tie but also a posterior tongue tie. I was shocked – I was so sure she wasn’t tongue tied since she could stick her tongue out and didn’t have a “heart-shaped” tongue. Plus I had NEVER heard of a lip tie!

We managed to book the simple procedure to release the tongue and lip ties for the next day (the procedure is called a frenotomy).  That one day wait was awful.  Each feed was excruciating. I was a mess. It got to the point where I couldn’t bear the pain of her latch. I had to start pumping and cup feeding Pumpkin my expressed colostrum. I even hand-expressed right into her mouth.

The simple procedures were over within a minute – I never saw any blood – and I nursed Pumpkin immediately. Already I was able to nurse her without excruciating pain. It took a few days (and a mighty battle with severely engorged breasts!) but we were able to breastfeed properly. Pumpkin was content after feeds and my cracks healed.

I was lucky – the lactation consultant who saw me had extensive experience with tongue tie (including the type of tongue tie Pumpkin had, which was not an obvious one) and referred me to a doctor who was trained in snipping tongue ties.

If breastfeeding is not going well, get professional help early. If you think your baby is tongue-tied, find a lactation consultant and a doctor who is trained and experienced with tongue ties (if you need help with this, give us a call at HaltonParents). A baby should be assessed for tongue tie if breastfeeding is not going well despite efforts to correct latch and especially if there is nipple damage and poor weight gain. (For more information about how to breastfeed, check out this written info and these instructional videos).

The importance of the tongue during breastfeeding – Who knew?

The tongue is responsible for actually getting the milk out of your breast. Any restriction in tongue movements can mean pain and cracking for the mom and less milk for the baby.

About tongue tie releases

Tongue tie releases fell out of vogue years ago when bottle-feeding became the norm, so for a long time we thought tongue-tie releases were not necessary unless there were speech problems. New research and anecdotal evidence from professionals is showing that when a tongue tie is interfering with breastfeeding, a release should be considered in order to preserve the breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding with a tongue tie can be downright painful and frustrating and often leads to early weaning. We know without a doubt that there are so many benefits of breastfeeding for both baby and mom and so preserving the breastfeeding should be an important factor to keep in mind when deciding whether a tongue tie release should be performed. It is also important to note that some babies look like they are tongue tied but breastfeed just fine, and in these cases a tongue tie release is probably not needed.

Here are some more personal stories about tongue tie:

If you have questions or concerns about breastfeeding or tongue-tie in Halton, you can give us a call at HaltonParents by dialing 311. A public health nurse can help you Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m.

Do you have story about tongue-tie and breastfeeding to share? We love to hear from you:

  • Leave us a comment below
  • Talk to us on Twitter: @haltonparents
  • Email us at haltonparents@halton.ca
  • Call  HaltonParents by dialing 311 or 905-825-6000 for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

About Andrea Scott RN

I’m a public health nurse with the HaltonParents team – you’ll find me blogging, tweeting and answering emails. I’ve been working for the Halton Region Health Department since 2006 and my focus has been on supporting parents with babies and little kids. I have two little ones myself, “Pumpkin” and “Monkey” who give me plenty to blog about! :)
This entry was posted in Babies, Physical Health, Pregnancy, Services and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to World Breastfeeding Week: My daughter was tongue tied

  1. Pingback: It takes support to breastfeed | HaltonParents

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