Tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) is a condition in which the thin piece of skin under the baby’s tongue (the lingual frenulum) is abnormally short or tight which may restrict the movement of the tongue .
The tip of the tongue may also look heart shaped, forked or blunt.
There can be a history of other family members having this condition.
Tongue-tie may not cause problems at all and therefore require no action.
However, a baby needs to be able to protrude the tongue forward to the lower gum in order to both latch effectively at the breast and maintain this latch during the entire feed.
If the tongue is not able to move freely then not only may optimal attachment to the breast be difficult to achieve, but cause sore and damaged maternal nipples as the baby attempts to feed.
This can then result in mastitis, poor milk transfer, reduced milk supply, an unsettled and colicky baby, not to mention an exhausted mother!
Bottle fed babies with tongue tie can also experience problems with their feeding, such as gagging, excessive dribbling, wind and a general dissatisfaction after a feed.
Additional issues to consider with a tongue that has a restricted movement include possible problems with managing solid foods, oral hygiene and speech development.
Support with breastfeeding and experimenting with different positions can be of benefit.
Some tongue-ties resolve themselves spontaneously.
Frenulotomy involves a simple procedure to release the tightness under the tongue. It takes only a couple of seconds or so, and without the need for an anaesthetic I can make a immediate referral to a specialist. Your baby can feed immediately after the procedure and I can discuss techniques to assist with the continuation of your breastfeeding.
There are several ways to position a baby to breastfeed, all of them must be comfortable to the mother.