Tongue tie is a fairly common condition in newborn babies; more so in boys than girls. The skin joining the tongue to the bottom of the mouth is shorter than normal, which can cause difficulties in breast or bottle feeding. It’s considered a hereditary condition, seeing as there are no known causes. Tongue tie can be easily corrected using a quick and simple surgical procedure. The tongue is separated by cutting the skin below it. In most cases, this can be carried out without anesthetic, as there are hardly any nerve endings under the tongue, and feeding can go back to normal within 24 hours.
What happens after the procedure?
Immediately after the tongue tie separation, a white diamond-shaped patch might form underneath the tongue (or yellow if the baby is jaundiced). This is normal and should gradually disappear, and be gone in 1-2 weeks.
Feeding after tongue tie revision
You can go back to feeding and caring for your baby as normal straight away, but feed them as soon as they show signs of hunger, especially in the first 24 hours. Don’t leave your baby to cry as it’s more likely you’ll catch the wound on your nipple or teat if they’re crying. This could cause the wound to bleed a little. Regular and frequent feeding is the best way to stop this problem.
What to do if the wound bleeds
The tongue tie practitioner will have made sure your baby’s mouth had stopped bleeding after the procedure, but if it you notice any bleeding after feeding, don’t worry. Gently hold some clean, dry gauze or a small cloth in your baby’s mouth for a few minutes. Don’t use cotton wool, or leave the cloth in your baby’s mouth without holding on to it. If this doesn’t stop the bleeding, keep pressure on it for another few minutes. If the bleeding continues take your baby to the emergency room to be on the safe side.
What to do if your baby is unsettled
Some pain is normal after the procedure so if your baby is crying more than usual in the first 24 hours don’t worry. Feed them regularly and give them lots of cuddles and skin to skin contact. There are pain relief options as well. Doctors can prescribe paracetamol to babies younger than 8 weeks old, and if they’re older, you can buy this over the counter eg. Tylenol or Calpol. Always read the label and don’t exceed the recommended dose.
What to do if your baby is reluctant to feed
They may feed differently as their tongue will be moving more freely so it could take a bit of getting used to this new sensation. If your baby is unable to latch on to a teat or nipple try giving them some expressed milk or formula on a sterilized plastic spoon. This should calm them down, and you can try again. If they don’t start feeding normally, call the tongue tie clinic for more advice. Tongue tie revision is a simple operation so there’s little risk or likelihood of it reforming. Encourage your baby to stick their tongue out, and keep up regular feeding.
For more information on tongue tie, check out our blog posts: