What you need to know if your baby has tongue-tie

What you need to know if your baby has tongue-tie

What is a tongue tie?

Tongue tie, is also known as Ankylogossia, is an extra piece of skin that goes from the floor of the mouth to the tongue.  It holds the tongue in place and can be thicker or shorter than normal.

Why is the procedure needed?

Tongue-tie can sometimes affect breast-feeding, bottle feeding, speech and even kissing. Releasing the extra piece of skin can make using the tongue much easier and improve feeding for new babies. Not all babies with tongue tie require division.

Before the procedure

You will be sent sent a letter confirming your appointment time and asking you to bring your red health book and a shawl to swaddle your baby in. 

How is the procedure performed?

Treatment is very simple: the tongue-tie is snipped by a trained health professional. For babies under 4 months old no anaesthetic is needed.

Baby will be wrapped in a shawl to ensure his arms do not wave around.  You will be able to carry your baby do the procedure room where a nurse will look after them. You will then wait in another room until the procedure is done. A nurse will bring back them back to you so you can feed him immediately.  

Following the procedure

You will be able to feed your baby immediately after the tongue-tie has been released. You may notice a small amount of blood on your nipple, this is very normal and will very soon top. There will be breast feeding support available should you need it. It is important to remember that the tongue is a muscle and will need to get used to working in a different way.

Risks Involved

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Re-snipping
  • Ulcer formation which heals in 24-48 hours

Benefits 

  • Improved latch so able to continue breast-feeding
  • Reduced pain for Mum
  • Reduced air swallowing

Alternatives to the procedure

  • Do nothing and observe

Care at home

Your baby may have a small blister or ulcer under the tongue but this will go after about 48 hours. There is minimal risk of infection, should this happen it is important to go to your GP.

We advise that you go back to the breast feeding counsellor who referred you so they can check that the latch is correct.

Exercises to help your baby use their tongue

The tongue is a muscle and needs to get used to its movements. Babies are great mimics so:

  • Stick your tongue out, they will soon copy you.
  • Wiggle your tongue from side to side
  • Move your finger around their lips so they follow it with their tongue.

These exercise will help your baby to move their tongue, aiding successful breastfeeding and preventing re-attachment.

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