Tongue-tie is a mild oral anomaly that can cause feeding challenges, especially for breastfeeding mothers and infants. Delayed diagnosis may place mothers at increased risk of stress and impaired mother–infant bonding when feeding does not go as planned. The purpose of this study was to explore the risk for altered maternal wellbeing (e.g., stress and maternal–infant bonding) in mothers of infants with tongue-tie-using-a mixed-methods, cross-sectional study.
We recruited mothers from two sites to participate in a survey about their experiences with tongue-tie: Facebook™ tongue-tie support group and a local pediatric dental office where frenotomy is commonly performed. Inclusion criteria were mothers 18 or older; able to read, write, and understand English. Infants were under the age of 1 year when diagnosed with tongue-tie. The survey contained both selection and open-text entry questions. Maternal–infant bonding was assessed using the Postpartum Bonding Questionnaire and maternal stress was measured using the Parental Stress Scale.
N = 113 mothers participated. Findings suggest that mothers of infants with tongue-tie report increased stress, especially when a diagnosis of tongue-tie is delayed. After correction, maternal wellbeing, the breastfeeding relationship, and maternal report of infant temperament improved.
Early assessment, diagnosis, and management of tongue-tie are important. Partner support is helpful in fostering the mother–infant relationship. Future research is needed to understand barriers to appropriate referrals and delay in treatment of tongue-tie.