Years ago, being born with a cleft lip meant that a child would long struggle to eat, talk, and otherwise develop normally. Thankfully, there are now surgical procedures that can repair a cleft lip when your child is only a few months old. Most children recover from these surgeries with few side effects and no lasting issues, but in the days and weeks after surgery, you will need to provide your child with some extra care as they heal. Here are a few tips to help you properly care for your child after cleft lip surgery.
Give pain medication as recommended.
Your child's doctor will probably recommend giving them pain medication at a certain interval after the surgery. Make sure you adhere to this interval closely, even if your child does not seem to be in pain. If you wait for the pain to set in, the pain reliever may not be as effective. If you need help remembering when to give your child the medication, set an alarm to go off at the designated drug times.
Make sure your child keeps the arm splints on.
Many children tend to rub their lips after surgery due to the itching and discomfort. Your doctor will, therefore, send your child home with splints that prevent him or her from reaching the face. Your child might find these uncomfortable at first, but it's important that you leave them on. If your child were to rub the sutures out of their lip, it could take much longer to heal and may need to be re-sutured.
Make sure your child gets plenty of rest.
Your child probably won't want to do much for a day or two after surgery. But after that, they may have a surge in energy levels. You don't have to confine them to the sofa, but do try to keep them quiet and let them get plenty of rest. Opt for quiet playtime with toys or watching TV rather than louder games that involve running around. You don't want your child to tumble and hit their lip, especially while it is still healing.
Use the special bottle for feeding.
Your doctor will likely send you home with a special, syringe-like bottle with a softer nipple. Your child may not want to drink from this at first, but it's important that you keep trying until they do. Using a regular bottle can stretch the incision too much.
For more information, reach out to your child's surgeon to learn about cleft lip surgery.