Background : Unilateral cleft lip and / or palate (UCLP) is one of the most common congenital craniofacial difference. The objective of this study was to describe maternal perception of breastfeeding in children with unilateral cleft lip and palate and to assess the role of breastfeeding counseling.
Methods : Qualitative descriptive method and phenomenological analysis were used to analyze the narratives. 28 mothers of patients with nonsyndromic UCLP treated with nasoalveolar molding (NAM) between April 2015 and April 2018 were strategically selected and interviewed after NAM treatment. Framework analysis was conducted for qualitative data. The CES University ethical committee approved the study.
Results : The findings resulted in six main categories: First contact with the CLP program, access to early diagnosis and timely treatment, perceptions of parents about health personnel on breastfeeding of CLP patients, perceptions of mothers toward breastfeeding, perception of advantages and disadvantages of the NAM technique regarding breastfeeding and assessment of the CLP program. The interviewed mothers, both prenatally and postnatally, stated the advantages of initiating the process prenatally. There are still difficulties for reaching a timely diagnosis. Several mothers stated that health professionals and assistants determined the hospitalization, installation of a nasogastric tube or feeding through a baby bottle or syringe, which prevented the first contact between mother and child. Even though the breastfeeding process is difficult for these mothers, they acknowledged its immense advantages. Interviewed mothers considered the use of the NAM advantageous as the obturator allowed a better bottle-feeding process. The program generates satisfaction, motivation, expectations and happiness to the mothers who initiated this therapy with their children.
Conclusion : The participants related difficulties with breastfeeding. Mothers acknowledged the clinical results when using the NAM obturator, as well as the support provided by the breastfeeding consultant.