Tongue tie post release: what to expect


My baby had their tongue tie released, what should I expect? First, having a tongue tie released isn’t always a magix fix to breastfeeding issues. While 80% of mothers do report a significant decrease in reported nipple pain after the procedure, there is still a recovery and healing proceess that needs to take place. That tongue has been like that since 8 weeks gestation and depending on how baby has learned to use their tongue, some relearning is necessary. 

Do I need to do stretches on my baby’s tongue after a release? There are conflicting answers, and it seems like every provider has a different one, which gets really confusing. The biggest concern is reattachment, which defeats the purpose of the release and for some, reattachment means re-release. 

Every baby is unique, as is their healing post release. When you have a tongue that is strong and coordinated but range of motion is limited because of the frenulum, the stretches, exercises and wound care management are different than a tongue that is super weak and disorganized. I have found in my practice that tongues that are super strong pre-release do much better post release and tend to need much less wound care management to keep the tongue from reattaching. They also need fewer oral motor exercises to get baby back to breast. The tongue was already functioning as it should, it was just anchored by the frenulum. When you have a weak tongue where range of motion was poor to begin with, they tend to need much more suck training/exercises, and without stretching, the tongue will reattach because of how the tongue rests on the floor of the mouth instead of up on the palate during healing. Body work is essential for these babes as the tension and weakness is usually though the whole system. Bodywork, suck training and lactation support are still crucial for the few days to weeks after the release is done. 

But what should you expect as a parent.

Day 1-3 your baby will feel sore and tender. They may be fussier than usual. A white patch will form where the surgery was done. Baby may have difficulty latching to bottle or breast, so have an alternative feeding plan ready such as cup or finger feeding. 

For the first week, baby is relearning how to use their tongue. Your provider should talk to you about stretches to do several times a day to help prevent the tongue from reattching. Our body likes to heal together so this is very important. Some minor bleeding may occur, but if you see lots of blood notify your provier right away. Pain management is often needed for the first few days, but many babies can taper off of this. 

From week 2-4, the white patch will shrink and may turn yellow as it heals. Some babies will see a small to drastic reduction in their symptoms at this point. Many babies will still need bodywork or lactation suppot. 

Natural remedies can include frozen breast milk chips that you can use to numb the area. This is especially helpful for very small babies when you don’t want to use an OTC rememfdy. 

Coconut oil is often recommended to lubricate the wound and for use during the stretches. A little goes a long way.

There are natural remedies that some parents find helpful such as arnica or camellia. And infant’s children tylenol can also be helpful. Mae sure to talk to your provider and your pediatrician for the correct dosage which is done by age and weight. 

Lots of snuggles, skin to skin time, and baby wearing can be helpful. Keep time at the breast pleasant and if you’re having trouble feeding, make sure to reach out as soon as possible for help.