How do you know if your baby has tongue-tie or lip-tie? Read below to find out more!
Having a new baby and trying to get them to eat can be HARD! When you throw a tongue- tie (ankyloglossia) or a lip-tie (superior labial frenulum adhesion) in the mix, things get extra complicated.
My goal when I had my twins was to nurse them as long as I possibly could. Well, that lasted about 6 weeks. I tried my hardest, saw lactation consultants and despite my efforts I was still experiencing extreme pain.
One of the twins would only latch on one side and due to my nipple trauma and clicking noises during feeding I kept asking the lactation consultant and the pediatrician to check for a tongue-tie. They did not see one. After about a MONTH of this I decided to make a pediatric ear, nose and throat (ENT) appointment on my own. Sure enough, he had a thick, posterior tongue-tie that was hard to detect. CLEARLY it was affecting our nursing sessions and so I had it clipped ASAP! After, things improved.
Fast forward 2 years – baby number 3 arrived. Again, my goal was to nurse as long as possible. The first day of his life I was suspicious of a tongue-tie and before I was even discharged from the hospital. I made an ENT appointment right away. there was NO WAY I was going to endure a month of pain trying to feed this baby!
Once again, neither the pediatrician nor the lactation consultant were overly convinced he had one but at the ENT appointment they said he did! ENT clipped the tongue-tie during the appointment. It was such an easy procedure – they numb the area, swaddle baby on a table, lift the tongue and SNIP- done! There was about 2 drops of blood and you can nurse or bottle feed right away to put pressure to stop the bleeding.
We also noticed that he had a lip-tie as well but since this was not impacting feeding there was no need to intervene. I partially blame that tongue-tie my one twin had for why my breastfeeding journey was cut short with the twins. For baby #3- we just finished a little over a year of our nursing journey with zero complications since the procedure! These pictures below are ones that I took of my twins.
And now time for our anatomy lesson…
What is a tongue/lip tie?
- A tongue-tie or lip-tie is a tight frenulum (tissue) connecting the lip to baby’s gums or tongue to gums. Sometimes this tissue is too thick or too stiff and inhibits the tongue and/or lip from moving freely. This connection could impact feeding, speech development and oral health
Why does this happen?
The bands of tissue are usually released naturally before birth. However, sometimes they remain attached, causing restrictive movement of the lip or tongue. The reason they remain attached is largely unknown, however, research has shown that this trait can run in families!
Funny story – at the twins first dentist appointment they told me the OTHER twin has a tongue tie too! We had no idea! They say it runs in families…I am 3/3!
How do I know if my baby has LT/TT?
There are several signs and symptoms that your baby could have a lip or tongue-tie:
Signs in Parent:
- Clicking sound with breastfeeding
- Early mastitis/ blocked ducts
- Extreme nipple damage and pain from improper latch
- Lipstick shaped or white nipples when unlatched
Signs in Baby:
- Frustration with breastfeeding after a few minutes, poor milk transfer
- Baby loses a significant amount of weight in the first few weeks of life
- Baby is constantly hungry because they cannot properly remove milk
- Visibly short or heart shaped tongue
- Large/thick visible band of tissue connecting lip and gums
- Large/thick visible band of tissue connecting tongue and gums
I think my baby may have TT or LT, what can I do about it?
- Sometimes nothing needs to be done especially if it is not impacting feeding. If the connection is not impacting feeding, then it is not harming your baby to leave it.
- A frenotomy is a simple and quick procedure where the frenulum (that extra tissue causing restriction of tongue) is first numbed with topical gel and then snipped using sterile scissors.
- There is almost no bleeding and feeding your baby right after the procedure applies pressure to stop any minimal bleeding that may occur. Most of the time they are more upset about being swaddled down then the actual snip! I had this done for 2 of my 3 boys.
- The procedure to detach a lip-tie can be more complicated depending on the degree and thickness of the attachment.
- If you are concerned that your baby may have a lip or tongue tie ask your pediatrician or lactation consultant to examine further! The sooner you can have your baby evaluated, the sooner your nipple pain will go away from an improper latch!
**Listen to your instincts – advocate for you and your baby!!
These first two photos below are of an intact tongue-tie with my one twin. With this twin, it was not impacting feeding and the pediatrician and dentist stated that it wouldn’t impact speech – so we didn’t clip it.
The third photo is the twin who had his snipped at 4 weeks old. As you can see, he can move his tongue freely and there is no connection from the tongue to the bottom of his mouth.
If you have anymore questions about LT/TT you can book a video chat or text consult with me or Kate (NICU RNs)! Click here to learn more about my medical background.
The information shared is meant to be educational and should not take place of that of your provider. Always check with your provider before implementing anything new.