You'll find hundreds of files on cleft lip, cleft palate here on widesmiles.org.

This one is about: After Palate Repair: Successful Breastfeeding and Success With A Price


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After Palate Repair: Successful Breastfeeding and Success With A Price

**** Comments By Joanne Greene - Wide Smiles

If a child is able to successfully breastfeed (for instance, has an intact palate) many doctors will allow the mother to continue to breastfeed, even hours after the surgery.  However, not every doctor feels that that is safe, so some will require a different feeding method (probably syringe or cup) post surgery for some specified period of time (usually 2 weeks, but maybe as much as 6 weeks.) After that, I doubt any doctor will not allow you to resume breastfeeding. During the period that it is not allowed - - IF it is not allowed - - you would be advised to pump so that 1) your child continues to receive breast milk and 2) you do not lose your milk supply.

On occasion the lip repair comes at a time when the mom decides anyway that she wants to wean from breastfeeding - for WHATEVER reason.  That is her choice and her choice should be respected.

There have been cases when a breastfeeding mother did not like the instructions the doctor gave her and she exercised her right to seek a second opinion. WS published an article once concerning a mom who cancelled her son's lip repair six days before surgery because she wanted to continue to breastfeed and her doctor said "not for 4 weeks". She visited other doctors and found one who was just as qualified to do the repair and would also allow her to continue breastfeeding uninterrupted.  She fed her son at the breast only a few hours after the surgery and his lip looks great.  It is important for a breastfeeding mom to know that some doctors allow it - not so she can go ahead anyway, but so she knows that she has the option of going to a doctor whose philosophy on breastfeeding is closer to her own.

Another story - - another mom was in the same situation - breastfeeding her son, one doctor (very well respected, connected with a large, respected team and did many cleft repairs per year) said no to the breast for 2 weeks post
surgery.  The other doctor - not connected with a team but had done a moderate number of cleft repairs, said it would be ok to breastfeed.  She chose the second doctor simply because she wanted to continue to nurse.
Later, however, there were a ton of problems with the lip and it eventually had to be done over again.  Her letter to me was a heartbreaker, as she said that she knew in her heart that Dr #1 was the better choice to do the repair, but she wanted to keep nursing. Now she realized that she traded a more experienced doctor for two weeks of putting her child to her breast (acknowledging that he could still have had her breastmilk during the after
care - he just would have gotten it through an oral syringe.)  Who is to say they would not have had problems with the repair anyway?  Problem is, nobody can say either way.  And moms are great guilt-dredgers given even half a
reason.  (I also want to say that the act of breastfeeding probably did not create the problems they had later, although it could have contributed, as some stitches gave way too early and there was an infection in the sutures.)

Just food for thought. Bottom line is, see what your doctor has to say. And good luck.  Your main goal should be to get him safely through the aftercare period - whatever that may take to do it.

Joanne


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