It is becoming more and more common for cleft lip and palate to be identified on prenatal ultrasound. If this is the case, we encourage parents to make an appointment as soon as the diagnosis is made so that we can we discuss treatment plans and prepare for the baby’s needs. This can be a very emotional time for parents, and a prenatal consult with members of the cleft team provides reassurance and relief.
During the prenatal consult, you will meet with the team pediatric plastic surgeon and the pediatric nurse practitioner, who is also the clinic coordinator and feeding specialist. During this initial meeting, we will review the cleft diagnosis, outline the treatment plan and timeline, and explain the concept of team care. The goal of the visit is to help prepare parents as much as possible and answer any questions or concerns they may have about their baby’s diagnosis.
Preparing for Your Prenatal Consultation
What Will My Baby Have?
Although ultrasounds can usually identify if the baby has a cleft lip, it is unusual for a cleft palate to be seen. It is also difficult to tell the severity of the cleft lip. Specific information about the baby’s surgical plan will be discussed once the baby is born.
Who Should Come to the Prenatal Consultation?
We encourage both parents to attend and bring along any family members they wish.
Can I Deliver at My Local Hospital or Do I Have to Deliver at Strong Memorial Hospital?
We encourage you to discuss this with your obstetrician. In general, having a baby with a cleft lip and palate does not make your pregnancy high risk, and many of our parents deliver at hospitals closer to home.
What Do We Do Once the Baby is Born?
You will receive contacts to call once you have delivered. We will also contact the nursery if your baby is still in the hospital. We like to see babies within the first week after birth if possible to ensure adequate feeding and weight gain and create a treatment plan.
When Will My Baby Have Surgery?
Cleft lips are usually repaired between 3 and 6 months of age and cleft palates are repaired between 10 and 12 months of age. Special timing adjustments are made for babies who were born prematurely or if there are other medical needs.
If I Meet the Plastic Surgeon and Nurse Practitioner at My First Visit, When Do I See the Full Cleft Team?
You will meet the entire team within the first year of your baby’s life. Typically, the visit takes place when your baby is 8-9 months old before cleft palate surgery.