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Cleft Lip or Palate: Common Concerns for Parents

Many parents are overwhelmed after having a baby with a cleft lip and/or cleft palate. It can be scary to think about the treatments your child will need. Like other parents of a child with physical problems, you may:

  • Fear that your child is too fragile to hold and cuddle.
  • Worry about future hardships your child may face, such as making friends.
  • Worry about whether your baby will get enough to eat, since feeding often is more difficult and complicated than normal.
  • Worry about the cost of surgery and other treatments.
  • Blame yourself or your partner for the child's condition.

Some common feelings parents may have after having a baby with a cleft lip and/or cleft palate include:

  • Shock, embarrassment, shame, or guilt.
  • Sadness because you didn't have a perfect baby.
  • Disbelief. You may even believe that there was a mix-up in the nursery and that this is not your baby.
  • Disappointment because you are unable to breast-feed (if you have a baby with cleft palate). You can feed your baby pumped breast milk with a bottle.

It may help to realize that a cleft can be treated and that no one is to blame. It's also important to take care of yourself. Give yourself time to adust, and perhaps join a support group. Also, know that your child's doctor, along with a team of other professionals, will help care for your child and can help address your concerns.

For information about support groups and online resources, see the Other Places to Get Help section of the topic Cleft Lip or Cleft Palate.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Adam David Schaffner, MD, FACS - Plastic Surgery, Otolaryngology
Last Revised January 19, 2012

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