Dealing With Tongue-Tie

By Joni Niedert
Kenner LA USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 13 No. 2, March-April 1996, pp. 41-2

When I discovered I was pregnant for the third time, I didn’t give much thought to breastfeeding. I would just care for the baby the way I had taken care of her two older brothers. I would breastfeed on demand, cuddle, and treat this new member of our family as the special, delicate gift that she certainly would be. I did reread my copy of THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING to refresh my memory about certain things, but after all my experience with Jason and Matthew, I didn’t believe that there was anything I would run into that I wasn’t prepared for. I thought about going to an LLL meeting, but I couldn’t muster up the energy to go.

During my pregnancy, there was no indication that Lindsay was going to have problems after birth. But when we were discharged three days later, we had a horrible time. Lindsay woke up crying, wanting to eat. I tried to nurse her, but it didn’t feel right, and I did not have any let-downs. She had only three wet diapers, and no messy ones in twenty-four hours. I didn’t want to give her a bottle as I had been told to do, but she kept on crying, so I did. This went on through the night. By the next morning, I was crying constantly, feeling like a failure, and did not know what was wrong.

I called Sarah, the lactation consultant at the hospital, and she made time to see me. At first, she thought that Lindsay was just a sleepy baby who wasn’t interested in nursing unless the milk was flowing. I had to work hard, she said, to keep Lindsay interested. In addition, Sarah suspected that Lindsay wasn’t latching on properly, but it wasn’t until Lindsay was screaming that Sarah discovered the major problem. When her mouth was wide open crying, Sarah could see that Lindsay had a short frenulum. The frenulum is the membrane that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth. A short frenulum prevents a baby from extending the tongue to grasp and milk the breast properly. Many refer to this condition as tongue-tie.