Tongue-tie occurs when the thin piece of skin under the baby’s tongue (the lingual frenulum) is very short and restricts the movement of the tongue. The tongue is not free or mobile enough for the baby to attach properly to the breast.
Tongue-tie occurs in about 5% of people. It is three times more common in males than females and can run in families. Some babies with tongue-tie are able to attach to the breast and suck well. However, many have breastfeeding problems, leading to nipple damage in the mother and poor milk transfer and low weight gains in the baby.
A baby needs to move his tongue up and down to milk the breast correctly. If the tongue is anchored to the floor of the mouth, the baby is not able to milk the breast well. The baby may not be able to open his mouth wide enough to take in a full mouthful of breast tissue. This can result in ‘nipple-feeding’ because the nipple is not drawn far enough back in the baby’s mouth and constantly rubs against the baby’s hard palate as he feeds. As a result, the mother is likely to suffer nipple trauma.
Facts in this article sourced from the Australian Breastfeeding Association