Tips to survive breastfeeding with tongue tie & get a perfect latch
Both of my babies have had pretty terrible latches which made breastfeeding, especially in the beginning, a real challenge! Both of them got better over time. After dealing with our first baby’s bad latch I was determined to make sure baby #2 had a good latch. Well in typical baby fashion he decided to show me who’s boss and ended up having tongue tie. Unfortunately there are a lot of myths out there about tongue tie and many parents think that they just have to give up nursing when their baby has tongue tie.
When we were told about his tongue tie I researched options and while having it cut is a pretty simple procedure there is a possibility of it growing back together and being worse than before. Our doctor said as long as he’s still gaining weight, it isn’t really a problem. I used my usual way of reasoning and figured that babies and mother’s have probably been dealing with this for centuries and just adapt. His wasn’t a severe case either so we just left it alone.
At the same time, my dreams of that picture perfect latch were totally shot because he just couldn’t get his tongue out far enough. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help your baby out. My friend shared these exercises with me which she learned from a super famous lactation consultant in NYC.
Steps for a perfect latch
Make sure you have a comfortable BACKED place to sit. That means a pillow or roll behind your back or neck if necessary at a comfortable height for your legs and feet. Have a pillow, boppy or brest friend pillow or whatever you like that can support the weight of the baby for you while you nurse.
1) Roll up a washcloth and tuck under the nursing breast inside your bra to boost and support the tissue (AMAZING!)
2) Have a receiving blanket or similar rolled up to support your wrist/baby’s neck in the crux of your arm (takes off so much tension especially for longer feedings)
Exercises to help baby latch perfectly and nurse like a champion
1) Lay baby in your lap with head at your knees
2) Take index fingers and massage the jaw bone at TMJ site (typically at level of ear lobes) for 3-5 circular motions clockwise (toward ears or “back”)
3) Take thumb and index and squeeze cheeks together to “fish” baby’s face 3 times
4) Take index finger and tap lower lip twice-on second tap hold finger in place while baby sticks tongue out FAR
5) While baby has mouth wide open, take same index finger and insert into baby’s mouth to push interior of cheek outward (like you would on yourself to make that POP noise trick) 2 times per side
THE PERFECT LATCH TECHNIQUE
To get baby to latch the right way every time, use your nipple to tap twice quickly on baby’s lower lip (“tap tap”) which will reflexively make baby open super wide and stick out tongue. If it doesn’t happen, simply wait a moment and try again-it will (It might not if your baby has tongue tie like our little man). Only when baby has a huge open mouth with stuck out tongue should you attempt to latch. As soon as baby does, bring mouth quickly to the breast and they will get the nice big mouthful of breast they need to securely and comfortably latch and nurse. Babies get the best latch coming from just beneath the nipple so that’s why tapping with the bottom of the nipple and bringing them up to the breast as opposed to leaning to them creates the perfect alignment.
Hope some of this information helps you! And hang in there… it gets soooo much better after the first month or so.