If Your Baby is Not Latching On, It Could Be a Condition Called Tongue-Tie

For many mothers who choose to breastfeed, a sense of accomplishment is often gained when their baby first latches on.   Breastfeeding provides a time to nurture, comfort and build a bond with their babies.   However, if a baby is unable to latch on and breastfeed properly, mothers can develop feelings of rejection or frustration.  Before becoming distressed, lactation experts at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center are advising moms to look into the reasons why their baby is not latching on. One of those reasons may be due to a condition called ankyloglossia, otherwise known as tongue tie.

Tongue tie is a medical condition that is present at birth. It restricts the tongue’s range of motion.  This restriction is caused by an abnormally thick and short lingual frenulum (The frenulum of the tongue is the soft tissue that connects your tongue to the base of your mouth).

The degree of severity of tongue tie varies from mild cases, where the lingual frenulum loosens over time or severe cases of complete ankyloglossia where the tongue is tethered to the floor of the mouth.

Tongue tie can complicate breastfeeding because it may not allow a baby to open the mouth widely enough to latch on at the correct angle or make a good seal around the breast.

During an examination of the baby’s mouth, a lactation specialist, nurse or physician can perform an assessment to determine if an infant has tongue-tie or if the ability to feed is compromised. Depending on severity, further consultation for a simple and quick surgery may be suggested.

The surgical procedure most commonly recommended is called a frenectomy; which can be done with or without anesthesia.  A physician will examine the frenulum, then use sterile scissors or a laser to cut it free.

In an effort to promote breastfeeding, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center offers many services and resources to the community. One of the services the hospital has made available to mothers is frenectomy in an outpatient setting. Procedures are performed by our highly trained dentists, utilizing laser technology. The procedure is quick, painless and there is very little or no bleeding.  After surgery, the infant’s tongue movement should improve greatly and in most cases, breastfeeding can commence immediately.The dental clinic can be reached at 718-206-6980.

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center is pleased to announce that the hospital has received official Baby Friendly-USA® Designation.   Baby-Friendly® hospitals and birth centers are required to meet the gold standard of providing excellent maternal care and achieving optimal infant feeding outcomes, in relation to breastfeeding.