You may stay in your baby’s room after cleft lip and palate surgery and help care for him. We will show how to care for your baby at home.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for caring for your baby right after cleft lip and palate surgery.
In the hospital
Your child will have a few tubes and wires attached to him. These may include:
- A pulse oximeter. This is a monitor that measures the oxygen in your child’s blood. A soft, plastic wire leads from the monitor and is attached to your child’s finger with a bandage. The wire will not hurt or shock your child.
- An I.V. (intravenous) line. This is a thin, soft, plastic tube that goes into your child’s veins. It lets us give your child food, fluids and medicines that can’t be taken by mouth.
Your child may have some discomfort from the cleft area after surgery. We can give him pain medicine through the I.V. or by mouth. To help prevent falls, be sure to keep your child’s side rails up and watch him carefully if he tries to stand or walk. Pain medicines can make him unsteady on his feet. (Falls after medication have been identified as a problem by our patient safety team)
We may also give your child other medicines (antibiotics) to help prevent infection.
You may notice some bloody drainage from the surgical site. Do not be alarmed; this is normal for a day or so.
Your child may be extra fussy for a while after surgery. This is also quite normal for three to five days.
Your child may need arm immobilizers (welcome sleeves) to help prevent him from touching his mouth area. If so, the restraints must be loosened a few times each day to check for skin problems. Loosen only one at a time, and do not let your child’s hand near his mouth. Arm immobilizers can make your child clumsy, so if your child is walking, watch for falls. Make sure his shoe strings are tied and pant cuffs are turned up.
You will be able to begin oral feeding soon after cleft lip and palate surgery. You may need to use a special method for a few days. If so, we will teach you how to feed your child with a syringe or special bottle.
After you go home
Your child will return to the doctor’s office in a week or so for a checkup. Any sutures that won’t dissolve will be removed at this time. (Most sutures used for cleft lip and palate repairs dissolve in three to six weeks.) At this visit, you may be taught how to help reduce the scar on the lip.
Your child’s next visit will be four to six weeks later to make sure everything is healing well. If your child had a cleft palate repair, your doctor will see if any openings have formed in the new palate. If so, they will need to be repaired at a later date.
Every six months or so at first, your child will be checked by the Children’s Craniofacial team. They will see how your child’s facial growth, hearing, speech, and mental and motor development are doing and provide treatment as needed. You will need to make clinic visits less often with time.