Easier Breastfeeding for Moms

Fresno, Calif. It's a procedure that takes a few minutes, but it will save mom Shani Haden from months of pain.

"I would've thought it was normal," Haden told Ivanhoe. "I would've thought that breastfeeding is supposed to be painful, but it's not."

Earl H. Harley, M.D., F.A.C.S., from Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., puts a little topical anesthetic in Haden's son's mouth and then snips the membrane under the tongue called the frenulum. It loosens and lengthens the tongue, so he can latch on without hurting mom.

"Just a couple snips, and it releases the tongue," Dr. Harley told Ivanhoe. "Very simple, takes a matter of a minute, two minutes at the most."

The goal is to prevent more moms from giving up on breastfeeding.

A recent survey shows breastfeeding in the U.S. is at an all-time high. About 77 percent of new moms are doing it compared to 60 percent 15 years ago.

"The breast milk is very important," Lise Eliot, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago, told Ivanhoe. "It is one of the easiest ways parents can, mothers can, choose to make a tremendous difference in their baby's health."

Studies show breastfed babies have a lower risk of ear and respiratory infections, obesity, diabetes and even cancer compared to formula-fed infants.

It could also help moms years later. New research shows postmenopausal women who breastfed were 10-percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke and had a lower risk of diabetes and high cholesterol.

Risks for this procedure include minor bleeding, injury to salivary ducts and scar formation under the tongue. Dr. Harley says he sees one to three babies a week for breastfeeding problems related to tongue-tie.

Georgetown MD Physician Referral Line
(202) 342-2400

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