Breastfeeding is hard enough when your baby has a perfect latch and there are no issues. If you notice your baby is struggling and think that they might have a tongue or lip tie, it can make breastfeeding even tougher. But are you on your own or will a doctor diagnose a tongue or lip tie?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a tongue tie is also known as ankyloglossia and is a condition in which a band of tissue (often unusually short, thick, or tight) attaches the bottom of the tongue's tip to the bottom of your baby's mouth. It can stop your child from sticking their tongue out, and can affect the way they speak, swallow, eat, and breastfeed.
A tongue tie is also different than a lip tie. The American Speech Language Hearing Association writes on their blog that a lip tie is when a band of tissue connects the upper lip to the upper gums at midline. You've probably noticed that everyone has some type of band connecting their lips to their gums, but it's usually up higher and doesn't interfere with eating or breastfeeding.
Both the Mayo Clinic and the American Speech Language Hearing Association note that these issues can cause problems with breastfeeding. A tongue tie means your child can't extend their tongue long enough for a proper latch and your baby could end up chewing on your nipple instead of sucking, leading to inadequate amounts of milk. A lip tie can also cause an improper latch as the lip doesn't have the mobility to effectively latch on to your breast as well as make it difficult to suck and swallow.
Luckily, both a lip tie and a tongue tie are easily diagnosed by your doctor. According to the Mayo Clinic, most doctors can discover a tongue tie before you are even discharged from the hospital with your newborn and a lip tie can be determined by simply flipping over your baby's lip to take a look at where the tissue connects the upper lip and gums.
A tongue-tie is a little more common and your doctor may opt to treat it right away, or to wait and see if it clears up on its own notes BabyCenter. An article published in the Journal of Human Lactation however notes that lip ties are often overlooked when performing an oral examination on a baby having trouble breastfeeding, so you may need to suggest it to your doctor.