Baby losing weight? There are a multitude of reasons why this may be the case. Inadequate breastfeeding could be the culprit. The exact breastfeeding problem can be tougher to pinpoint, however.
The inability for an infant to get adequate sustenance during breastfeeding may be due to inadequate tongue mobility caused by a tongue tie. For more information on what a tongue tie is, see my post on “What Does A Tongue Tie Look Like?”. To summarize, a tongue tie is an actual restriction of the movement of the tongue caused by a short lingual frenum, the whitish cord underneath the tongue. This restriction can affect breastfeeding in numerous ways, including creating an inability for the baby to properly latch and formulate enough suction to properly nurse. This can cause nipple pain and breast damage for the mother. It should be noted, however, that a baby losing weight is just one of a few different indicators that a tongue tie may be causing breastfeeding problems.
Other Factors Besides Baby Losing Weight That Can Be Influenced By A Tongue Tie
1. Falling Asleep While Nursing. This can be a common indicator of a tongue tie with an infant. The reason this occurs is because the baby is forced to exert more energy than normal to nurse than babies who have no breastfeeding issues. It’s an issue of stamina and babies (especially newborns) only have so much to give before they get tired.
2. Failure to Properly Latch. Babies with a tongue tie struggle to open their mouths wide enough to properly latch during nursing. Often, babies with tongue ties are able to open their mouth wide enough to obtain that initial latch, however they struggle to maintain that position. They end up sliding down to the end of the nipple, so the optimal position during nursing is short-lived.
3. Gumming and Chewing On The Nipple. Babies with tongue ties are often unable to avoid using their gums during nursing. This generally causes the nipple to become flattened/lipstick-shaped after nursing and results in pain for the mother.
Seeking Out Help
The indicators listed here are just a few of the reasons why a tongue tied infant may be unable to properly breastfeed. IMPORTANT: Please note, a baby losing weight can be due to other serious medical conditions, so please consult with your pediatrician. If you believe breastfeeding problems are contributing to your baby’s lack of weight gain, please find a board certified lactation consultant in your area to schedule a visit with.
As explained in my post, “Importance of Provider-Lactation Consultant Teamwork in Evaluating for Tongue Ties,” I believe a team approach is absolutely necessary for comprehensive treatment. I personally work with reputable lactation consultants in the community to who are comfortable in assessing oral restrictions. If breastfeeding issues have not improved or resolved and a consultant is concerned about a possible tongue tie, she will refer over mom and baby.
If it is suspected that your baby has a tongue tie, contact our office for a consultation. During the initial assessment, I will review with you how I determine if the tension on the lingual frenelum is enough to warrant a laser frenectomy.