Coping and support

By Mayo Clinic Staff

No one expects to have a baby with a birth defect. When the excitement of new life is met with the stress of discovering that your baby has a cleft lip or cleft palate, the experience can be emotionally demanding for the entire family.

For the parents and family

When welcoming a baby with cleft lip and cleft palate into your family, keep these coping tips in mind:

  • Don't blame yourself. Focus your energy on supporting and helping your child.
  • Acknowledge your emotions. It's completely normal to feel sad, overwhelmed and upset.
  • Find support. Your hospital social worker can help you find community and financial resources and education.

For the child

You can support your child in many ways:

  • Focus on your child as a person, not on his or her cleft.
  • Point out positive attributes in others that don't involve physical appearance.
  • Help your child gain confidence by allowing him or her to make decisions.
  • Encourage confident body language, such as smiling and holding his or her head up and shoulders back.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. If teasing or self-esteem issues arise at school, be sure your child feels safe talking with you about it.
Jun. 14, 2012