A Case of Tongue-Tie

April L. Larsen
Piscataway NJ USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 23 No. 2, March-April 2006, pp. 64-65

For several years now, I have been reading and enjoying NEW BEGINNINGS. I save the old issues to give to others o encourage breastfeeding. Now I have a story to share in hopes that my experience will help others.

My daughter, Keira, was born in a beautiful water birth. Upon examining her mouth, my midwife noticed that Keira had a tight frenulum, also known as tongue-tie. (The frenulum is the small band of tissue that connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth.) She mentioned it should not be a problem to nurse her, but that I should pay extra attention to how Keira latched on. She said that most of the time the frenulum can stretch enough to breastfeed well. I was also informed that in some cases, tongue-tie babies need a procedure called a frenotomy by an oral surgeon or qualified dentist. In a frenotomy, the frenulum is clipped with scissors, allowing the tongue to move more freely.

Even the hospital pediatrician did not feel my daughter’s tongue-tie would be an issue. The first few days of nursing went well. Then my milk supply increased and my breasts were larger than my baby’s head! Keira could not achieve the proper latch-on to stay on the nipple. She was tired, cranky, gassy, and upset all day and into the next day.

I brought my baby to our pediatrician and asked about her tongue. She did not seem concerned and stated that “no one clips these days.” I did everything I could to assist Keira to latch on, and as this is my second baby, I knew what a proper latch-on felt like.

Days later I was sore, frustrated, and feeling really tired. Keira was very fussy when hungry because she wanted to nurse but was unable to stay latched on. I knew we had to get professional help. I contacted the Lactation Resource Center and made an appointment. I immediately felt at ease as they weighed her, watched me nurse her, and weighed her again. She had taken in four ounces of my milk, but it was really a struggle. My nipples were cracked, bruised, and hurting.