As a new parent, you’re excited to share a special bond with your little one, especially because you plan on breastfeeding. While some blog posts or well-meaning friends say it’s the most natural thing in the world, you seem to struggle. The baby doesn’t latch on properly, and your nipples hurt. You don’t know what to do, frustrating you both.
Before you switch permanently to bottles, consider this: your problem may not be your technique—your baby could have a tongue tie impairing your ability to nurse.
What a Tongue Tie Is
In utero, every baby develops a bit of tissue that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Most of the time, this thick tissue (called a frenulum) dissolves before the infant is born. But some babies keep the frenulum under the tongue, commonly referred to as a tongue tie, which restricts its range of motion.
How a Tongue Tie Can Be Harmful
When breastfeeding, babies need to create a seal around the nipple to suck enough milk. This suction is achieved by bringing the tongue up and around the bottom part of the nipple. Babies who have tongue ties are not capable of latching on properly and therefore struggle to get milk and nourishment, fail to gain weight, or bite down on the nipple.
Parents who bottle feed their babies may not notice the initial signs of a tongue tie because modern bottles are fabricated to make it extremely easier to drink from. Even those with tongue ties can simply bite down on the bottle nipple and get the milk or formula. As a result, some tongue ties can manifest later in life through speech issues or difficulty eating solid foods.
Why Tongue Ties Seem More Common Now
For several decades, feeding babies formula was highly encouraged because many experts thought it contained more nutrients than breastmilk. However, that opinion has drastically shifted in recent years, and more mothers are nursing their babies. As a result, tongue ties are generally identified earlier on as newborns and new mothers try to figure out breastfeeding from day one.
Why You Should Address Your Baby’s Tongue Tie
If you decide to feed your baby with a bottle, you may be thinking that a tongue tie doesn’t apply to your situation. However, if your baby has a thick frenulum under their tongue, it can lead to many issues down the road. Certain sounds require the use of the tongue, and the tongue is responsible for moving solid food around the mouth for adequate chewing and swallowing. Fortunately, your board-certified pediatric dentist can provide treatment for this problem through a laser frenectomy.
In the end, you and your little one can have a special relationship, regardless of how you feed them. But by resolving an existing tongue tie can make the nursing experience easier and more enjoyable for you both as well as help your baby have healthy growth and development.
About the Practice
At Chicago Tongue Tie Center, we have three board-certified pediatric dentists on staff. We specialize in identifying and treating tongue ties with advanced technology, namely our soft tissue laser. Using this device, we can remove excess tissue with very little bleeding or discomfort for the baby, and improvement in nursing can be experienced basically immediately afterward. To learn if your baby has a tongue tie, contact our office at 312-248-2455 or go online here to schedule an appointment.