Questions about surgery

My baby was born with a cleft lip and palate, at what age will my baby be operated on?

Generally, the repair of the cleft lip occurs between three to six months of age and the repair of the cleft palate occurs between six to nine months of age. This can vary depending on the child's cleft and the general health of the child.

How many operations will my child need?

This will depend on the type of cleft that your child has and will be decided after you see the Plastic Surgeon at the Cleft Palate Clinic

To prepare for the lip and or palate operation what do I need to do about feeding?

The Cleft Lip and Palate Nurse Consultant will discuss the preparation with you at the Cleft Palate Clinic or in the Pre Admission Clinic. There are a few things that can be done to attempt to make the postoperative pathway smoother, such as reducing the use of dummies and introducing a spout feeder.

Can I breastfeed my baby with a cleft lip or palate?

Babies born with a cleft lip only don't usually experience feeding difficulties. In most cases, your baby will still be able to breastfeed. If your baby has a cleft palate only, they should be able to use the front part of the hard palate to suckle the nipple if their cleft is narrow and limited to the soft palate.

In most cases, babies with a cleft lip and palate are unable to breastfeed. This is because they do not have a separation between the nose and mouth, so they cannot create enough pressure to suck effectively from the breast. They usually feed successfully with bottles and teats specifically designed for babies with clefts.

I wasn't breastfeeding before the palate was repaired. Will I be able to breastfeed after the palate is repaired?

If the baby has not been breastfed prior to surgery, breastfeeding may be difficult to establish following surgery.

Ways to maximise the chance of the baby successfully breastfeeding following surgery can be discussed with the Cleft Lip and Palate Nurse Consultant or Speech Pathologist.

Last updated Saturday 28th October 2023