Cleft Lip and Palate

Cleft lip and palate are congenital malformations caused by incomplete fusion of the structures of the oral cavity in very early gestation. It may involve only the lip, may extend into the hard and soft palate and may be unilateral or bilateral.

Cleft defects occur in approximately one child out of 500-700 live births in Europe and most parts of the world.
Corrective surgery will usually be performed and in some circumstances temporary measures, such as a palatal obturator (a moulded plastic the fits into the mouth) may be used to facilitate feeding until surgery is performed.
Breastfeeding can be a challenge, but with the right support it may be possible for the baby to take at least partial breastfeeds. Experimenting with different positions and different ways of supporting the baby's jaw and chin, may prove partially successful. Support and advice from a lactation professional is essential.

As most infants will not be able to breastfeed succesfully, expressing your breastmilk is very important. Use a 2-Phase pump (Link), to help initiate and maintain your milk supply. Pumping regularly (every 3-4 hours initially) will help to build up a good supply.
The Special Needs Feeder is designed for babies with feeding problems. The special teat does not require vacuum and it has a slit valve that allows the milk flow to be controlled so that the baby is not overwhelmed with milk.

Following surgery, breastfeeding may be uncomfortable for a short time, so continue with the expressing but also offer the breast regularly. Your baby may find comfort from having the nipple in the mouth. He will soon learn to breastfeed with enthusiasm when he realises he can now do it himself.

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