I have been a midwife for almost 33 years now and it seems to me that there are more babies who suffer with a tongue tie that impacts breastfeeding (and hence mummies suffer too!).
Why is this I wonder? We do know that this condition affects about 1 in 10 babies, runs in families and is more common in boys.
I do not understand why tongue ties appear more common now, but what does concern me is that they are often missed. A tongue tie results in that baby having restricted movement of their tongue, which means he/she is unable to;
- Obtain a good latch at the breast
- Cannot maintain a good latch throughout the feed
- Unable to effectively remove the milk from the breast
- This leads to a longer time feeding at the breast, the baby feeding more frequently, generally more unsettled
- The baby can keep going on and off the breast
- Poor latch and less effective removal of milk from the breast negatively impacts milk production
- Mum’s nipples can get sore when the baby is unable to attain a deep enough latch
- The above is emotionally and physically challenging for a new mummy
A tongue tie can often be resolved with a division of the tongue tie (frenotomy) undertaken by a qualified, experienced practitioner, alongside good breastfeeding support.
A great article to look at via Google is ‘Tongue-tie in Babies: A Guide for Parents’ by Sarah Oakley. I have attended an on-line course run by Sarah and she is extremely knowledgeable and experienced.
As an expectant or new parent just have in the back of your mind that if breastfeeding is not going well, despite having good positioning and the best attachment you can achieve, consider whether your baby could have a tongue tie and ensure you get a full assessment of breastfeeding, alongside extra support and encouragement.
With breastfeeding remember – every drop is a bonus, do what you can (your best is good enough, perfection and parenthood do not go together well!)