Babies with cleft lip and palate conditions can receive breast milk, either through expressed feeds or by breast-feeding using special techniques positions, and supplementary feeding methods. Techniques vary, depending on the degree of the condition.
Babies with a cleft lip/cleft lip and alveolus May successfully breast-feed, but the mother may need to try different positions to find those that create an effective lip seal. Indeed, breast feeding is often easier than bottle-feeding in these infants:1,2 breast tissue is soft and malleable, and can be moulded around the area to improve the seal.
Babies with a cleft palateMay find it difficult to breast-feed successfully as they are unable to create effective negative intra-oral pressure. The mother should be encouraged to express milk, and give it using a specialist soft bottle (usually provided by the Cleft Lip and Palate Nurse Specialist, following a thorough feeding assessment).
Mothers are encouraged to put their babies to the breast for the benefits of skin-to-skin contact and stimulating milk production. Similarly, non-nutritive sucking provides emotional benefit to the baby and helps to stimulate milk while the mother is expressing. See: Non-nutritive sucking
- Slator R, et al. Understanding cleft lip and palate, 2: the first five years. J Fam Health Care 2009; 19: 122–125.
- Cole A et al. Understanding cleft lip and palate. 3: Feeding the baby. J Fam Health Care 2009; 19(5): 157–158.
ResourceCleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA) http://www.clapa.com. Accessed 12 November 2009.
From: Journal of Family Health Care Bulletin. Directory of Breast-Feeding Advice. December 2009. Published with JFHC 2009; 19(6). http://www.jfhc.co.uk/images/stories/breastfeeding.pdf