A tongue-tie is a relatively common condition that approximately 5% of newborns are born with. When a baby has a tongue-tie, the frenulum or the piece of tissue that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth is short, tight, or thick. It may be attached close to the tip of the tongue preventing the tongue from moving freely and from sticking out past the baby’s gums. The tongue may even look heart-shaped when the baby cries or tries to push it out. The medical term for tongue-tie is ankyloglossia.
Breastfeeding a Baby With a Tongue-Tie
A baby with a tongue tie may be able to breastfeed without any problems, or he may not be able to breastfeed well at all. It really depends on the baby and the severity of the tongue-tie.
Children use their tongue when they latch on to the breast. They extend their tongue out to take the nipple and some of the surrounding areolae into their mouth. They also use their tongue to form a good seal around the latch. But, a baby with a tongue tie may not be able to open his mouth wide enough to latch on to the breast and seal the latch well. The tightness of the tongue may also keep the baby from making the movements necessary to squeeze the milk ducts under the nipple as he’s breastfeeding.