Help a baby by being aware of tongue tie indications

If you hold
your tongue firmly to the base of your mouth and try sucking, you probably find
it difficult. Babies born with tongue tie are experiencing what you just
experienced. In fact, the percentage of babies who suffer from this condition
is between three and ten percent, according to the National Health Service of
the United Kingdom and the condition is more prevalent in boys. So what is it that
stops the child from feeding? It’s the fact that their tongue seems to be tied
to the base of their mouth, just as experienced when you tried the
exercise demonstrated above.

The
structure of the mouth

The tongue is tied to the base of the mouth with a piece of skin. This
is normal, though it isn’t normal when that piece of skin, or lingual frenulum,
holds the tongue too tightly and the baby finds it impossible to suckle. The movement of the tongue may appear to be restricted.

The first
place a pediatrician or your general practitioner will look is in the mouth of
the baby. This is something which can be detected early if you tell your
midwife or doctor that baby has problems feeding. A short examination should
tell them this is a problem. However, the structure of a baby’s mouth will
always have a lingual frenulum, so don’t panic if the baby can move his/her tongue sufficiently. It is only when the tongue seems to be pulled too tightly to
the base of the mouth that this can cause difficulties.

Signs of problems

If the baby seems to have problems suckling and instead seems to bite
the nipple between its gums, then this may indicate a problem with the feeding.
Do discuss this with your health visitor or midwife and don’t assume that
something is wrong immediately. Sometimes babies with tongue tie can feed
adequately and nothing needs to be done. It really depends upon the extent of
the tongue tie.

What can a mother do about it?

The first thing to do is to consult your general practitioner who may
refer you to a pediatrician at the local hospital if the doctor thinks that
action is needed. The treatment is a relatively quick procedure which merely
cuts into the tongue tie and allows the tongue to move freely.  Do talk to the specialist to find out what
kind of anesthesia is needed, if any. Anesthesia is usually used on older
babies and a local anesthesia may be chosen by the specialist on younger babies
who generally feel no discomfort. For mothers who are worried about the
treatment, it may be worthwhile reading a report written by the National
Institute for Health and Care Excellence which gives details of the procedure.

Implications of non-treatment of tongue tie which is restrictive

If a baby has problems with feeding from his/her mother’s breasts,
chances are that a mother will turn to formula milk as an alternative, though
preferring to continue breast feeding as a more natural way to feed baby. If a baby
is left untreated, non-treatment of such a minor birth defect can be far
reaching and mothers should make themselves aware of the possible consequences
by reading a full report backed up by a leading Australian pediatric surgeon.

Getting the facts straight

It’s important that each case of tongue tie be dealt with on its own
merits. No web page can tell a mother whether their child needs surgery.
Referral to professionals is the bottom line of all medical websites on the
subject, and only the professional can tell the mother whether her baby needs
surgery.

Don’t be afraid of asking the doctor for advice. The doctor is there to help even if you think your questions are perhaps an over-reaction to motherhood. It is far better that the baby is treated as soon as possible to avoid any speech impediment in the future, as well as discomfort with their feeding now. That question to a doctor may change their little lives and help them to go back to breast feeding again.

The surgery used for tongue tie is non-invasive with many babies breastfeeding straight
after the treatment, but it should never be assumed that treatment is needed
without that interaction with a pediatrician. As a mother, if you are reading
this and are concerned, seek the advice of your doctor for peace of mind.
Doctors do expect new moms to have questions and if there is any concern that
the baby is insufficiently nourished as a direct result of tongue tie, then the doctor will be able to make the decision to refer the mom and baby to a
pediatrician to decide upon further treatment if thought necessary.