What is Tongue Tie?
Ankyloglossia, which is more commonly known as tongue-tie, is an anomaly that can decrease the mobility of the tongue and is caused by a thin membrane connecting the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Tongue Tie varies from mild cases which are actually fairly common to a complete tongue-tie, where the tongue is fixed to the floor of the mouth. In all my years of being a Newborn Photographer I have seen many cases of tongue-tie, in fact, it is how I first learned about it! But I have never seen a complete tongue tie so fret not.
So how to spot it?
Each baby is different and becoming a parent is a learning experience in itself let alone learning how to be a GP and spot every little thing! The best advice is to trust your instincts firstly if you feel something isn't quite right but you cannot put your finger on it - there is nothing wrong with asking the questions with a professional. It may not be spotted the first or even second-time a professional takes a look, like for example Isabelle here. Hers was set further back and off to the side so it was not spotted initially. Yet she was feeding constantly and taking a long time and the big telltale sign, not gaining much weight. She came in for a newborn session and would simply not sleep, she was not getting a big enough feed in her which induces the coma-like sleep newborns go into. We rescheduled for a few days later in case she was cluster feeding and nope she was pretty much the same. No one was alarmed, it was quite funny and CUTE to have a newborn just stare at you. At their viewing mum couldn't wait to tell me why!!! She has a little case of tongue-tie and now was a fully fed, happy, sleepy baby, albeit she was awake the whole viewing session so think she has really set the bar on the awake babies for 2020 ;)
So got me thinking I should write a blog about it!! Given my audience is 99% new mum or mums to be.
Things to look out for are:
When baby moves its tongue it may appear slightly shaped different, it may be short or even heart-shaped at the tip with the middle bit pulled down in the center front - this restricts baby's movements and can stop them getting a good latch or even being able to latch, while other babies with a tweak to positioning will be able to get a latch and feed well and the tongue tie may be missed.
Baby will feed a lot to get enought milk, this can like it did in our newborn photoshoot be mistaken for cluster feeding
A baby may have little to no weight gain, you may well feel the need to substitute or add to your feeding to help baby gain weight or just because you feel like baby is never off the breast.
The Association of Tongue-tie Practitioners say;
What to do about it?
It is not pretty and no nice way of putting it but it is called a Frenotomy - this is a small procedure where the thin membrane is cut to release the tongue, yes sounds horrid but lets remember babies are tough cookies and heal tremendously fast!
The general waiting time for NHS can be 6-8 weeks, a private practitioner is around £130.
You can find one here:
If you find yourself wondering - do go and ask a professional and above all else TRUST your instincts!