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tongue tie | baby with tongue tie

Can a  tongue tie cause mastitis?

What is mastitis?

Mastitis is an inflammation OR infection of the breast that affects the lobes that produce the milk. There are many known causes for mastitis which is why it’s useful to look at all of them especially if you experience recurring mastitis issues. Tongue tie is one such issue due to baby not physically being able to drain the breast fully. This causes a stagnant milk situation that builds pressure in the duct and lobe system of the breast that may result in mastitis.

There’s a lot of factors to consider in both mastitis and your baby’s tongue tie. It can be a confusing time for new parents. You’re doing your best after all! You may have seen some health professionals who have dismissed the potential for you baby to have a tongue tie because they are putting on weight, and otherwise thriving. 

But mama symptoms are just as important to consider here, and mastitis is one BIG consideration. Let’s take a step back and look at the whole picture here… 

Consideration for mastitis and tongue tie…

A baby who has a tongue tie, has a structural, anatomical difference. They don’t know any better and will still try to feed in any way they can, because it’s a survival thing after all. But the way they compensate around the tie can lead to nipple damage for mum!  

Nipple damage has been flagged by breastfeeding experts and the WHO as a primary cause of infectious mastitis. Why is this? Well, the cuts in the nipple gives bacteria the perfect opening to enter your system.

But there’s also inflammatory mastitis.

This is caused by a build up of milk in the ducts that isn’t drained well. This back up causes an inflammatory response in the breast tissue that is known to mimic the signs and symptoms of infection, such as fever and joint pain. If you have ever experienced nipple damage, then I’m sure I don’t need to explain how painful it can be and why this pain might be a reason for being unable to effectively drain the breast?  

Unsure if this might be your situation? Some questions to ask yourself include: 

  • Do you/did you have nipple damage? 
  • Are you needing to use a nipple shield?  
  • Are you experiencing recurrent cases of mastitis or blocked ducts? 
  • Is your baby struggling to latch through the whole feed, pulling on and off consistently, causing nipple irritation? 

Sometimes it’s worth having a consult or second opinion on you baby’s suspected tongue tie. Even if bubs is doing fantastic, your breast health and breastfeeding journey is just as important and shouldn’t be ignored. 

If you want an assessment of baby’s tongue or need treatment for mastitis, we offer both at our clinic by professionally trained Osteopaths.

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