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

This one is about: The Issue of Breastfeeding and Mechanics


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The Issue of Breastfeeding and Mechanics

This was gleaned from a message posted to cleft-talk by Joanne Green

We need to realize that breastfeeding is a mechanical operation. Everything needs to work in order to make IT work. And even under optimum conditions, some kids still have a very hard time. But in the case of a child with a cleft palate, the mechanics are simply NOT there. Cleft lip only - - no problem (or very little problem) but cleft palate - - BIG problems.

Sometimes the best of intentions will not be enough to make up for a lack of mechanics. You can wish and hope and try all you want, but your determination alone will not make it happen. In some cases, it will only prolong the frustration.

Do this experiment: Get a plastic straw. Cut a hole in the side of it. Put it in milk, and try to suck it. If the hole is small enough, you might be able to get some milk - but it will be filled with air pockets and it will not be worth the effort you put into it. Make the hole bigger, and you cannot suck at all. Now, I know that breast feeding is not the same as sucking through a straw - - it is the illustration that I am trying to show. With the hole in the straw, you cannot build the negative pressure you need. And I don't mean a slit in the straw - - I mean a gaping hole.

You are asking your baby to take nourishment through a straw that has half its side missing. The mechanics just are not there. Do your baby a favor - - put that wonderful nourishment into a container that will deliver it TO him and feel proud of yourself that you found such a clever solution.


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