If your little one was born tongue-tied, within a few hours to a few days after birth you probably were advised to have it clipped. "Tongue-tied" is the slang term used to describe a condition in which the web of skin that holds a human's tongue to the bottom of the jaw is longer than normal and restricts tongue movement. The procedure of clipping this tissue is called a fenectomy. While it may not seem like a big deal at the time, this simple and painless procedure will improves a baby's latch when nursing if a tied tongue is the problem. Keep reading to learn what a proper latch is, and how you can improve your baby's latch after a frenectomy:
A Proper Latch
Before you can talk about improving your infant's latch after a fenectomy, you must first know what a proper latch looks like. Start by sitting down on a comfortable chair or couch and placing a firm pillow on your lap. You can use a specifically designed nursing pillow, or simply grab a pillow off your bed. Lay your baby across the pillow on your lap so he or she is facing you, and the head, shoulder, and hips are in a straight line. Move your baby slightly until the little one's mouth is level with your nipple. If the baby is too low, then grab a second pillow to elevate the infant. Never lean in towards the baby, but instead bring the baby towards you.
Place the baby's lower jaw on first, well below your nipple, and help your baby get as much of your breast into his mouth as possible. Tilt his head forward in order to get your nipple as far back into his mouth as possible. Keep this free hand under your breast to help your baby stay latched. A proper latch is when:
The baby is sucking on the areola and not just the nipple
The baby's top and bottom lips are everted, or turned out. This is also called a fish mouth.
The baby's chin is pressed into your breast.
Latching After A Fenectomy
After your newborn has had a frenectomy, you should nurse him or her right away. Sometimes, there is an immediate improvement and latching your baby is much easier. Other times, it takes a little work. After a frenectomy, your baby can now move his or her tongue in new ways, it and may take some getting used to.
The first time you latch your infant after the tongue has been clipped, follow the instructions above. If your baby has trouble, there are a few things you can do to help:
1. Supplement with Playtex Drop-In bottles with a slow-flow latex nipple. This soft nipple will teach your child how to use his or her tongue, which will in turn improve the latch.
2. Make funny faces to your infant and encourage the baby to stick his or her tongue out. You stick your tongue out, and then ask your baby, "Where's your tongue?"This is a fun way to exercise your infant's tongue. When she sticks her tongue out, praise her and give her lots of smiles and kisses.
3. Use a soothie pacifier and play tug of war with it to encourage tongue movements.
If you are still having trouble getting your baby to latch after a tongue tie frenectomy, then contact your child's pediatrician, a lactation consultant, or a myofunctional therapist for additional help and advice. Remember, a frenectomy is a low-risk procedure that involves very little bleeding. But it can greatly improve feeding and will ensure your child thrives. Click here for more info about frenectomies.