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 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 your child
You can support your child in many ways:
June 17, 2015
- Focus on your child as a person, not on the cleft.
- Point out positive qualities 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 the head up with shoulders back.
- Keep the lines of communication open. If teasing or self-esteem issues arise at school, this can help your child feel safe in talking with you about it.
- Wilkins-Haug L. Etiology, prenatal diagnosis, obstetrical management and recurrence of orofacial clefts. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 12, 2015.
- Crockett DJ, et al. Cleft lip and palate. Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America. 2014;22:573.
- Cleft lip and cleft palate surgery. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/reconstructive-procedures/cleft-lip-and-palate.html#content. Accessed May 12, 2015.
- Campbell A, et al. Cleft lip and palate surgery: An update of clinical outcomes for primary repair. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinics of North America. 2010;22:43.
- Cleft lip and cleft palate. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/cleftlip.html. Accessed May 12, 2015.
- Cleft lip and cleft palate. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/cleftlip/. Accessed May 12, 2015.
- Cook AJ. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 23, 2015.
- Your baby's first year. Cleft Palate Foundation. http://www.cleftline.org/parents-individuals/publications/booklets/. Accessed May 13, 2015.
- Parameters for evaluation and treatment of patients with cleft lip/palate or other craniofacial anomalies. American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association. http://www.acpa-cpf.org/team_care/. Accessed May 12, 2015.
- Cofer SA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 8, 2015.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 20, 2015.