With the birth of a child who has a cleft lip, palate, or both a cleft lip and palate, comes many
uncertainties regarding the cause, effect and repair of the cleft. The mother may also be
concerned about her ability to care for and feed her baby. These uncertainties can affect
the early bonding phases of parenting.
Breastfeeding a child born with a cleft lip or palate
assures that mother and baby spend lots of cuddling time together. If breastfeeding is
initiated right after birth, closeness between mother and baby will be enhanced. Mothers
and babies find the skin to skin contact during breastfeeding calming and comforting.
The soft breast
is ideal for the baby's mouth. The flexibility of the breast allows it to be molded to
compensate for abnormalities of the baby's lip or mouth. The baby has more control over
the flow of milk and the position of the breast in his/her mouth. Early practice helps
baby imprint on the breast.
due to milk leakage into the nose is a common problem when there is an opening in the soft
or hard palate, human milk is a natural bodily fluid that is not irritating to the mucous
membranes. Therefore, breastmilk is the optimal choice for feeding a cleft lip or palate
A baby needs to
suck for comfort as well as nourishment. Breastfeeding allows a baby to spend time at the
breast sucking for comfort as well as for feeding. At The Children's Hospital of The
King's Daughters, we encourage breastfeeding after surgical repair.
Prior to the
repair and possibly immediately after surgery, mother may find that they need to stimulate
their milk supply with an electric breast pump. Pumped milk can be fed to the baby by
bottle, finger feeding, cup feeding or supplementary feeding at the breast to assist in
maintaining the baby's nutritional needs.
Hospital of The King's Daughter's has Lactation Consultants (Breastfeeding Specialists)
available to mothers and families throughout the breastfeeding experience. The consultants
are available to provide support and to answer questions.
early after surgical repair is encouraged at the Children's Hospital. As members of the
craniofacial team, the lactation consultants, work collaboratively with the other team to
help our mothers achieve breastfeeding success. The goal of the entire team is to make the
surgical repair a positive experience by encouraging bonding, good nutrition and optimal
growth for the child.