Cleft palate and cleft lip breastfeeding advice
What is a cleft palate? A cleft palate is an opening in the inside of a baby’s mouth, that starts in the hard or soft palate and ends at the nose entrance. Actual Breastfeeding with cleft palate is not always possible, depending on the severity.
What is cleft lip? A cleft lip is an opening from the lip, upwards and can occur more than once on either side of the lip. Cleft lip is also sometimes referred to as “harelip”. Cleft lip breastfeeding is important for mouth muscle development.
Mothers that have a baby with a birth defect like cleft lip or palate, should know that breast milk is even more important to their babies, since these babies in particular are more inclined to get infections.
Cleft lip breastfeeding is easier than breastfeeding babies with cleft palates. But that doesn’t mean that you can't breastfeed a baby with a cleft pallet, you can still pump your breast milk and feed it to your baby in special cleft palate bottles that have a cross cut nipple, or you can feed your baby via alternative feeding methods like cup feeding or lactation aids.
Some babies with these problems might choke a lot during feedings and may also leak the milk from their noses. Babies with cleft pallets will almost always need to be fed via bottle to supplement as they usually don’t get in enough milk during breastfeeding. Some babies have cleft lip and palate simultaneously and are usually fed with a special sippy cup or are breastfed sitting up. A cleft lip palate combination can be very frustrating for mothers who are trying to breastfeed, and support and help can be found at a cleft palate clinic, where cleft lip and palate treatment is superior.
The actual process of breastfeeding can help strengthen a baby’s face and mouth muscles, which can enhance speech skills. Breastfeeding with a cleft lip is also more practical for a baby with a “hare lip”, as baby will have more control over the milk flow than with a bottle.
Cleft lip repair and cleft palate surgery are recommended as soon
as possible and no later than the age of three, because of developmental
Cleft lip surgery usually takes place within the first 10 weeks of a baby’s life. Cleft lip treatment after surgery usually entails the baby wearing a head bonnet and splints to restrict his/her arms, this is just so that the baby doesn’t touch or damage the stitches.
Cleft palate repair will close the opening between the nose and mouth, which will help with breathing, swallowing and normal development of the baby’s mouth. With a repaired cleft palate, the baby will be able to start breastfeeding normally again.
Here is a site that gives the cleft palate care dos and don'ts after cleft palate surgery.
What is a Palatal Obturator?
It is a device that is fitted especially for each baby and covers the open area, therefore, making feedings much easier. It covers the open nasal cavity, which causes the leaking and choking during feedings.
Environmental risk factors may increase the risks
No, but your baby might just take a little longer to learn to talk. Cleft palate speech therapy is available to children who struggle a little later with their speech development.
A submucous cleft palate is not as obvious as a normal clefting. It’s covered by a membrane and sometimes never causes any problems, but there is still a risk of ear infection. A submucous cleft can be found in the hard or soft palate.
If your baby is born with a cleft palate or cleft lip, talk with a lactation consultant in the hospital for cleft lip and palate support as soon as possible.
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