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Cleft Lip or Palate: Common Concerns for Parents

Topic Overview

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 have, 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.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Adam David Schaffner, MD, FACS - Plastic Surgery, Otolaryngology
Last Revised October 16, 2013

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