When a breastfeeding mother experiences pain while nursing her little one, the first thing which needs to be checked upon is the latch on the breast. If the pain continues even after improving and making the latch deeper, very often a tongue tie can be suspected in the baby. This tongue tie prevents the baby from latching deep onto the breast and hence causes sore nipples.
If the tongue tie is anterior, it is very evident due the heart shaped tip of the tongue on protrusion. However the tongue tie can also be posterior and difficult to see. Hence, a proper assessment by a trained lactation consultant is essential. It is the functional movement of the tongue which needs to be checked, as some babies and their mothers do not have any breastfeeding related issues in spite of having a tongue tie. However, due to inefficient tongue movements during nursing, the baby may not be able to transfer good amount of breast milk in his mouth. This over a period of time can reduce the mother’s milk supply and cause poor weight gain in the baby.
Very often the tongue tie may be associated with an upper lip tie, which may make deep latching further difficult. A trained lactation consultant has an eye to assess this efficiently.
Treatment usually consists of tongue tie and lip tie release, followed by appropriate oral exercises to enhance the movements of the tongue and the upper lip.