How and why do ties affect breastfeeding?
The mobility of the tongue is very important during breastfeeding, both for the mother and the baby. A baby with a tied tongue may not be able to latch deeply onto the breast, past the nipple onto the areola. This compresses the nipple onto the hard palate in the baby’s mouth, leading to nipple pain and skin breakdown for the mother. A tongue tie often accompanies a high palate, which also decreases the suction and further reduces milk transfer.
Babies with ties may not maintain a latch for long enough to take in a full feeding, while others may remain attached to the breast for long periods of time without taking in enough milk. Some infants will feed only during the mother’s milk ejection reflex, or “let-down” when the milk ejects more freely, but won’t continue to draw milk out of the breast when this slows. Bottle feeding allows milk to drip into the mouth without effort, thus requiring less tongue muscle effort than is needed for breastfeeding.
An infant’s inability to breastfeed often results in the mother giving up breastfeeding entirely, while being told that the problem is her fault. In reality, the problems may actually result from restricted tongue and upper lip attachments – making normal function, mobility and breastfeeding difficult or impossible.
Image & Content Credit: The Breathe Institute & Dr. Chelsea Pinto