Mom breastfeeding her baby in nursing chair

Can You Breastfeed A Baby With A Tongue-Tie?

Undoubtedly, you can still breastfeed your baby with a tongue-tie. The tie only means that the cord of tissues under their tongue is connected to the bottom of their mouth making their tongue short, tight, or thick.  Many of these reasons make it hard to move their little tongue to breastfeed. Find out ways to deal with your baby’s tongue-tie.

The research states that only 4-11% of babies are born with tongue-ties.  However, I feel this number is much higher due to tongue-ties not being checked for in the hospital as part of the baby’s 24-hour exam. Hopefully, at your pediatrician’s office, your doctor is checking your baby for a tongue-tie.  With my second son, we saw 3 pediatricians, and not one checked for a tongue-tie.

The hardest type of tongue-tie to breastfeed is the baby with a severe tie that goes all the way to the tip of their tongue which looks like a heart. However, with some tongue-ties, you may be able to breastfeed with no problems or trouble latching. Always get helpful lactation support to work on latch, positions, nipple shields, etc. Don’t forget I am a lactation consultant and speech therapist that can help you through this whole process.

What are the signs your baby is tongue-tied?

You might see that your baby has a few or all of the following signs listed below. My son had 7 of the 9 signs. I was pretty confident when I walked into my lactation consultant appointment that he was tongue-tied.

9 Signs and symptoms your baby may have a tongue-tie:

  • Gagging, choking on milk, or popping off nipple to gasp for air
  • Fatigue; falls asleep feeding; wakes often to feed (every 1-2 hours)
  • Latch issues (shallow, pops off breast, bottle, paci easily)
  • Airway: snoring noisy breathing, congested, mouth breathing
  • Reflux, spits up a lot, gassy, colic, fussy, hiccups
  • Clicking/smacking sound while nursing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lip/sucking blisters
  • Poor weight gain

What are the signs on Mama your baby has a tongue-tie?

Let’s take a look at you, Mama, and see if you now see any signs or symptoms that point to your baby may have a tongue-tie. Albeit, I did not see it either until I started checking off the boxes. It was like a light bulb went off in my head.

9 Signs and symptoms MAMA your baby may have a tongue-tie:

  • Sleep deprivation (baby not able to nurse so they compensate by nursing more often, including at night)
  • Incomplete breast drainage, plugged ducts, engorgement
  • Lipstick-shaped, cracked, blistered, bleeding nipples
  • Discomfort while nursing, nipple shield required
  • Baby prefers one breast over other
  • Extended feeds over 30 minutes
  • Compromised milk supply
  • Thrush
  • Mastitis

Breastfeeding Holds To Try

You are not always able to get a tongue-tie released right away. Your pediatric dentist may have a waitlist.  But the few I know make their babies a top priority. A few will even schedule off mornings once a week to make sure babies are seen right away.

Always try the simple solution first of changing positions for your baby. If you always use the cross-cradle or cradle hold try the football hold. This is the best position for a baby with a tongue-tie. However, it may not be the best for your baby, so do not forget about the dangle feeding, laid-back or side-lying position.

How to help my baby breastfeed with a tongue-tie

You should still be able to breastfeed your baby, but you might have to get a little creative. You can pump your breastmilk and feed your baby a bottle. I would encourage you to pace-feed your baby. When you pace feed your baby, they are sitting up in your arms and holding the bottle. You are trying to feed your baby slowly trying to mimic breastfeeding. This is a great method if you are wanting to go back to feeding off your breast.

You can also try a nipple shield that will help with a shallower latch. The Lansinoh Contact Nipple Shield will help until your baby’s tongue and/or lip are revised. This is the best nipple shield for a baby with a tongue-tie.

Mama, if you are so stressed and your milk supply is dropping, buy some formula from a store. You can do both breastfeed and formula, or breastfeed and pump by giving a bottle. Just remember your supply is all dependent on supply and demand. If you do not pump and are supplementing with formula your supply will decrease. Please work on increasing your supply with these drinks, common snacks, or essential oils.

Final Thoughts…

You can breastfeed a tongue-tied baby but it may not be easy. I would suggest going and getting an evaluation with a lactation consultant or a pediatric dentist in your area.

On my own breastfeeding journey, it was changed after the tongue-tie release. I did not see immediate results because he had to learn to reuse his tongue. However, over two weeks, the clicking stopped, he increased his milk supply, I was no longer engorged after every feed, and he was picking up weight.

As a lactation consultant and speech therapist I can walk you through the steps for a correct tongue and/or lip-tie release. You should have the correct team of people around you to make your journey easier.


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