Cleft Palate Surgery—Before and After Tips for Parents

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During the fetal development of a child, the left and right sides of the face fuse together. When the fusion doesn’t happen correctly, it can result in a birth defect known as a cleft palate. This is when there is a noticeable hole in the roof of the mouth. This physical birth defect is very easy to diagnose and can be treated effectively with surgery.

Understand What’s Involved

One of the biggest causes of emotional turmoil is fear of the unknown. To take away a large majority of the fear that is present, you should opt for learning about this specific type of surgery. With the help of your doctor and online resources, you can learn the steps that are involved and why they’re being done. When you identify the pieces of the procedure, you can help to get rid of those unknown feelings. This will drastically help to decrease your fear and emotional turmoil.

Prepping at Home

Your doctor will be able to provide you with the appropriate time to have the cleft palate repaired. This is typically done within 6 to 18 months of birth. However, it can be reserved for later in some specific cases. Once the surgery is planned, there are some necessary preparation steps that you need to take at home for the surgery.

This type of corrective surgery is performed under general anesthesia. For the anesthesia to be effective, there are certain eating and drinking rules that must be followed in the day prior to the surgery. The amount of food that your child receives and how close to the surgery time they may eat is highly dependent on their age. Your supervising nurse will be able to give you specific instructions. For example, infants under 12 months can typically receive breastfeeding up to four hours before the surgery is performed.

At Home Care

After your child is released to come home, there are some necessary at home care tips that you should be following. Your child is going to be restrained at their elbows for about two weeks following the cleft palate surgery. Be sure to have a long sleeve t-shirt on your child to help reduce any discomfort caused by the restraints. As far as eating and drinking goes, your child’s diet will be very limited following the surgery. This is to prevent against unwanted post-surgical infections. Talk with your acting surgeon to discover the at home care tactics that you’ll need to follow after the surgery is performed.

As a parent, you play a very active role in the health of your child who is going through cleft palate surgery. It’s important that you discuss instructions with your doctor and get your questions answered as they come up. The above tips should help to give you a great starting point to handle the surgery both emotionally and physically.