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Breastfeeding and Tongue Ties - What to Expect with Tie Release

Updated: Sep 16

Do you think your baby may have a tongue tie? You've come to the right place! The IBCLCs with East Tennessee Lactation have extensive experience working with families in improving oral function when it comes to infant feeding. Want to know more about their experience? Head over here.

Navigating tongue/lip/and cheek ties can feel very confusing. If you venture into parenting groups, you've probably noticed lots of people mentioning ties whenever there are breastfeeding problems. And ties absolutely CAN cause breastfeeding problems, but there's so much more involved in optimal outcomes than a simple snip/cut/release (and there are also times where ties are NOT what is causing breastfeeding issues).

Working with an IBCLC knowledgeable in ties and oral function can greatly improve your breastfeeding situation. Every situation is unique, and one baby may require more preparation than another. Your baby's function is just as important as the timing of any potential release (not all babies need a release). And we have found that when parents and babies are prepared, these little babies tend to do so very well when a release is needed. We absolutely love supporting moms and babies both before and after release.

Additionally, we love making connections with excellent providers here in East Tennessee. Whether you are in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Sevierville, or anywhere in between, we will give you a wonderful list of resources so that you have options for care when it comes to choosing the right provider for your baby.

If you are concerned that your baby has oral restrictions, let's set up a consult!

My baby has been referred to a provider to be evaluated for tethered oral tissues. What should I expect now?

Your IBCLC has referred you to a trusted provider to evaluate your baby for tethered oral tissues. What can you expect next?

Continue to do any additional therapies such as body work along with sucking exercises 3-4 times per day before a release appointment. This will help your baby to prepare for their new range of motion following a release.

1. Schedule an appointment with your chosen provider.

Scheduling can be easy and can often be done online or by phone. Your chosen provider may request notes from your lactation consultant, specific photos of your baby’s mouth, or both. These notes and photos can help the provider gather a larger picture of the current feeding situation for you and your baby.

At your appointment, your provider will evaluate your baby for tethered oral tissues. Much of the time, parents anticipate the diagnosis of ties. But what next?

Some providers will release the ties the same day of your evaluation. This can work really well for parents who have had feeding support before the release and whose babies are already practicing for a new range of motion.

Other providers may schedule a release at a later date. This can be beneficial for babies who need additional body work, suck training, or time before a release.

2. Tie release (day of):

Following the release, your baby can breastfeed almost immediately. Some parents do notice a difference in latch from the first nursing session, but some babies do need more time and practice for feeding to improve.

Talk with your provider about pain management for your baby. Babies tend to struggle about 5-7 hours following the release. The first few days following a release, your baby may be sore or uncomfortable as well. Pain management can be as simple as practicing normal comfort measures such as skin-to-skin, and your provider may also give you age appropriate dosing for over the counter pain meds such as tylenol or ibuprofen or homeopathic medicine such as arnica.

You can read more about what to expect on the day of a release here:

What to Expect After Tongue Tie Release (Frenulotomy) – Milk Matters Infant Feeding Solutions.

3. After release:

Begin doing lifts about 6 times per 24 hours. If you are working with East Tennessee Lactation, we will have shown you the elevations/stretches BEFORE your baby is released (stay tuned for videos). Stretches are an important component of aftercare and help to ensure that baby's wound sites will heal with optimal range of motion.

4. Evaluate feeding and motion following the release.

Your baby now has the potential to move more freely than ever before, but this can also take extra practice and time to get those movements right for optimal breastfeeding and oral function. As an IBCLC, I generally see babies on day 2-3 post release to evaluate feeding and add additional exercises depending upon your baby’s needs and developments.

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