Baby with his tongue out with brown hair and brown eyes.

Are Stretches or Exercises necessary after a tongue-tie release?

YES! I could call it one of the most important aspects after a tongue, lip or buccal-tie release.  Your pediatric dentist will call the surgery a frenectomy.  The post-surgery tongue-tie release exercises are known as active wound care or AWC to the medical professionals.

If the wound under the tongue remains open and new skin grows over the wound then that is the best case scenario. You should see that the wound gets smaller over 1-2 weeks and it remains at the base of the tongue. However, if it closes back together due to no stretching. Then all the same signs and symptoms will come back for the mama and baby.

Make sure when stretching to keep the upper and lower points of the triangle of the wound separated to decrease the risk of reattachment.

Are you new here? I also have the following posts to help you with other breastfeeding information!

To Clip or Not to Clip? That is the questions.
Are Tongue Ties real?
Are Lip Ties real?

How often should you do stretches after a frenectomy?

Each pediatric dentist is different but they recommend 4-6 times a day for the first three weeks after surgery. You should not let a total of 6 hours lapse between each stretch to help lessen the risk of reattachment.

Tips for stretching after surgery

I know mama, this is going to be hard.  How can you stretch your babies tongue and lip while you see them in pain? Your baby more than likely will cry the whole time but it is only for a few minutes. Then get some really good snuggles to help calm down your baby.

  • You might see a small amount of bleeding after treatment, especially during the first few days.
  • Stretches are NOT meant to be forceful or prolonged.
  • Do NOT let more than 6 hours go by before you stretch the tongue and/or lip again.
  • Always wash your hands and use medical gloves if you have some.
  • You can use a LED headlight to help see into your baby’s mouth. If you have another adult present, lay the baby’s head in your lap and look. 
  • If your doctor recommends then use Tylenol and/or Ibuprofen.
  • Freeze breastmilk and have them chew on it in a mesh bag feeder. This will help numb the mouth and hydrate.

Think your child may have a tongue-tie? Grab my freebie Do You Have Pain When Breastfeeding Your Baby? Where I share signs and symptoms of both Mama and Baby where your baby might have a tongue-tie.

When can I start stretching after tongue-tie release?

Listen to your doctor but most say wait one day after the procedure to start with stretches. However, I have also heard pediatric dentists say never wait more than 6 hours between stretches. 

After the first 6 hours, do a round of stretching. I would never want to go through this again with my baby, to make sure it does not reattach. Go with the 6 hour rule even if it is in the middle of the night.

There is a slight chance you will start to see a little bleeding for a day or two. When you lift up the tongue you will see a white diamond which is normal.

How do you stretch after tongue-tie?

Your doctor will give you a set of exercises, so follow those. Let’s look at the best way to prepare for each time you stretch.

  • Start with washing your hands with soap and water. Do not use hand sanitizer or other alcohol based products even though they are easy and sitting on your baby’s changing table. I would also recommend using medical gloves.
  • You should perform the exercises on your baby before or after a diaper change. They usually are upset around that time anyways.
  • I would not do stretches right before or after a feeding to not upset them so much they do not eat.
  • You can place your baby on a changing table or bed. Roll a towel and put under their shoulders to help their chin point straight up. Or place them on another adult’s lap with their head in your lap.

Should I see anybody else after the release?

YES, a tongue-tie release should be a team approach.

You should be in contact with your lactation consultant to help you, Mama, with milk supply, latching techniques, positioning, and pumping. They are also able to provide emotional support and guidance during the breastfeeding journey.

You should have lined up a chiropractor or physical therapist to help with manual manipulation and other techniques to reduce pain, improve body function, and promote overall health.  You will see your baby not be so tight and easier to pick up.  I saw this in our own son, not feeling like he was stiff as a board.  

Our son saw the chiropractor a few days before and a week after. Then she started to spread the session out to every other week, four weeks, etc.

Do you feel your milk supply is low due to your improper latch, mastitis, clogged duct, bleeding nipples or thrush? Check out my new Ebook that you can download right away with lots of tips and tricks to help along with a lot of printables to help with daily trackers, pain trackers, breastfeeding planner and more. There is a special bonus that comes with a FREE call with me. Check out my Ebook: How to Deal with Pain while Breastfeeding.

Ebook Cover: How to deal with pain while  - How My Emotions Made Me Lose My Breastmilk Supply

How do I know if the tongue-tie is reattaching?

If after 7 to 10 days your baby’s symptoms begin to reappear and/or nursing is difficult for you Mama, then it is possible that the tongue or lip is reattaching. Return to the doctor’s office ASAP for a follow up visit. The doctor will do a deeper stretch to help. Most Mamas report that the symptoms go away again and nursing is much better.

Research states that if a frenectomy (Tongue-tie) procedure is done correctly that approximately 4% will reattach.

What to expect after tongue-tie revision.

You should expect your baby to be uncomfortable for the first 48-72 hours. After day 3 you should start to see a big change in your baby. I say you need to take a small staycation with your baby for the first 72 hours. Everything is about your baby with a lot of cuddles, warm baths, and expect a lot of nursing for comfort.

When to call the Pediatric Doctor?

If you feel your baby’s tongue is reattaching, call your doctor ASAP to get in for them to do a deep stretch. Also if you are seeing any of the problems below:

Refusal to nurse or take a bottle

Fever >101.5

Excessive fussiness/not able to console 

Uncontrolled bleeding

Final Thoughts…

Even though it may be painful for both you and your baby, you’ll be happy you do the stretches. You’ll see that your breastfeeding journey will be so much easier.  I noticed a deeper latch right away.  They should start to reflux less or not at all.  My baby started to get more sleep!  Which means you Mama are also getting more sleep!!


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How My Emotions Made Me Lose My Breastmilk Supply