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Breastfeeding A Tongue-tied Baby: 6 Things You Need To Know

Breastfeeding a baby is a pleasant experience for most mothers. However, there may be times when it is difficult for a mother to breastfeed her little one. The reason for the same may range from that of not enough milk being secreted, to the baby not being able to suck in all the milk that is secreted. Naturally, this results in the child not getting a sufficient amount of nutrition and the child being underweight, which may be the first symptom of the same.

In this article we shall explore one of the most common conditions that create a problem in breastfeeding and discuss all that you need to know about breastfeeding in such a condition. We shall talk about breastfeeding a tongue-tied baby.

  • What Is Tongue-tie?
  • How Common Is Tongue-tie?
  • How To Find Out If Your Baby Has A Tongue-tie?
  • Difficulty In Breastfeeding A Tongue-tied Baby
  • Treatment Of Tongue-tie

What Is Tongue-tie?

Medically, being tongue-tied is a condition and is known as ankyloglossia. This condition is pretty common (especially, among babies who are born premature). Although this is not a lifelong disability or deformity in the initial months of one's life it can make things pretty difficult by making breastfeeding extremely painful.

For every human being, there is a piece of skin that connects their tongue to the bottom of the mouth. This is the case with everyone, irrespective of whether he or she is a newborn child or an octogenarian. In anatomy, this piece of skin is known as frenulum.

Now, if this frenulum is too short or too tight, the child will not be able to open his or her mouth fully and that hampers lactation. This condition is known as being tongue-tied. It is important to realize that with the intervention of modern medical science, this condition can be easily treated.

How Common Is Tongue-tie?

Despite the fact that this is something that is not usually spoken about, the fact is that tongue-tie is a condition that is very common. This is all the way truer in the Indian subcontinent where every year more than a 10 million cases of the same are reported every year. As per statistics, about 4 per cent of babies are seen to be born with this condition. Male babies are more prone to suffer from the same. Also, this is something that seems to run in a family.

How To Find Out If Your Baby Has A Tongue-tie?

Often, it is difficult for parents to identify if a child is tongue-tied in the first few days of his or her life. Only when there is not sufficient weight gain do parents notice that something is wrong and take appropriate actions.

But, by then, the child would have already lost out on a lot of initial nutrition which is essential for boosting his or her lifetime immunity. Thus, as parents, it is your responsibility to get your child checked for this condition before you take him or her home from the hospital.

Difficulty In Breastfeeding A Tongue-tied Baby

Tongue-tiedness is a physical condition that makes it difficult for babies to suck breast milk. This leads to a host of breastfeeding problems, the most prominent of which is poor milk transfer. Since breast milk is the only source of nutrition for the infants, these babies end up losing out on growth and this leads to poor weight gain and lack of immunity in them.

The other difficulties that come along with breastfeeding a tongue-tied baby are the ones that affect the mother. This would include things like nipple damage, mastitis or blocked ducts that happen due to incomplete milk removal from the body.

Treatment Of Tongue-tie

The surgical treatment of tongue-tied is clipping. While this may not be necessary in all cases, understand that if your doctor does recommend it, there is no point in you delaying the same. By pushing it off for later, you are not just depriving your baby of the goodness of breast milk, but you are also making the procedure more painful for him or her than what it already is.

On the non-surgical front, doctors recommend certain tongue-tie exercise for the child. Sometimes these alone are sufficient to treat tongue-tiedness in babies whereas in other cases, this must be performed in the weeks following surgery in order to gain the maximum benefits. This must be carried out in order to ensure that the frenulum does not reattach itself.

Understand that these exercises on your part might be a little painful for your baby, but that is what needs to be done for his or her greater good. Do not feel guilty about causing your little one pain, but rather take this as a responsibility as a parent and do the needful exercises.

Having gone through all these facts about breastfeeding a tongue-tied baby, you must have realized that this is not the end of the world. Indeed, as a parent, you are the one who needs to be patient and take appropriate medical actions in order to ensure that your child gets through this with minimal pain.

Read more about: tongue baby
Story first published: Wednesday, August 22, 2018, 16:00 [IST]
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