Coping and supportBy Mayo Clinic staff
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 the 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 the child
You can support your child in many ways:
- Focus on your child as a person, not on his or her cleft.
- Point out positive attributes 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 his or her head up and shoulders back.
- Keep the lines of communication open. If teasing or self-esteem issues arise at school, be sure your child feels safe talking with you about it.
- Flint PW, et al. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05283-2..X0001-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05283-2&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed May 24, 2012.
- Kliegman RM, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1608/0.html. Accessed May 24, 2012.
- Submucous clefts. Cleft Palate Foundation. http://www.cleftline.org/what-we-do/publications/fact-sheets/submucous-clefts/. Accessed May 25, 2012.
- Dixon MJ, et al. Cleft lip and palate: Understanding genetic and environmental influences. Nature Reviews Genetics. 2011;12:167.
- Wilkins-Haug L. Etiology, prenatal diagnosis, obstetrical management and recurrence of orofacial clefts. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed May 29, 2012.