How Tongue-Tie Can Affect Breastfeeding

December 29, 2016

How Tongue-Tie Can Affect Breastfeeding

Tongue-tie, which occurs at various levels of severity, can carry implications for breastfeeding babies. Today, we are going to discuss what tongue-tie is, how it can affect a breastfed baby, and what can be done about it.

tongue-tie and breastfeeding


Ankyloglossia, commonly referred to as “tongue-tie,” is a condition that occurs in almost 0.2% to 2% of babies! This medical condition occurs when the frenulum (i.e. the band of tissue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth) is too short & too tight. Due to this, a baby cannot open their mouth widely and the tongue is restricted from full extension. 


If you want to check your baby for tongue-tie, put your finger in their mouth (with the pad of your finger up) and wait until the baby sucks. If the tongue doesn’t extend past the gum ridges to cup your finger, there may be reason to have a Pediatrician check your baby.


A severe form of tongue-tie can cause frustration for both baby and mom during breastfeeding. Here are some signs to look for if your baby has tongue-tie:

  • Hunger and/or malnutrition: Not being able to properly latch to the breast can lead to your baby not receiving the milk they need. If a baby cannot move their tongue to grasp the nipple and then press the tissue against the roof of their mouth, the milk ducts (lactiferous sinuses) will not properly compress.
  • Swallowing wind: If the baby does not produce the proper grasp on the breast, there is a possibility that they will more often swallow wind instead of milk, which thereby, can lead to hunger.
  • Sleep disturbances: A hungry babe will have a hard time sleeping. A lack of nutrition and a full tummy can cause incessant crying & inability for the baby to settle.
  • Reflux: During feeding, the baby uses their tongue to express milk in a downward fashion. If the tongue is not able to compress the breast correctly, there is a possibility that milk will not be aimed in the correct way for the baby to swallow. This can lead to reflux issues and at times, even vomiting.

For the moms: Tongue-tie can also affect YOU. Here’s how:

  • Nipple trauma: Not being able to extend their tongue forward past the gum ridges means that a baby will need to use their gums while nursing. The pain from this can, at times, linger, regardless of which positions you use to breastfeed.
  • Clogged ducts: Milk that is not expressed properly can cause blockages in your milk ducts. You can read more about clogged ducts and how to deal with them HERE.
  • Mastitis: Clogged ducts and painful nipples can lead to a breast infection known as mastitis.


Yes! A doctor can perform a simple in-office procedure known as a frenetomy. By quickly clipping the frenulum to loosen it, the baby’s tongue will be given a full range of motion. Additionally, anesthesia and stitches are not required for this procedure! If the tongue-tie is causing severe difficulties in your breastfeeding journey, be sure to have it looked at as soon as possible!

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The content found on the BettyRuth site is not meant to replace professional medical advice. 

By Myra Aslam @ Bliss Creative

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Breastfeed Beautifully

Whether it's information about your registry, breast pump advice, breastfeeding prep, lactation support or in-house help for those first few chaotic weeks, you'll find what you're looking for here. 
BettyRuth is in your corner.
BettyRuth™ Baby Concierge is your one stop resource for all things baby from bump to boobs.

Follow us on Instagram