Glenda’s breastfeeding story – Exclusive expressing through a baby with cleft




“The smile we missed post-surgery”

Breastfeeding New Zealand is thankful to Glenda Dawson for sharing her personal story around her baby born with cleft and her commitment to continue expressing milk.

Good morning. Seeing Alicia’s story has prompted me to write this. My son (turning 3 in feb) was born with a complete unilateral cleft  lip/palate. Because of the palate involvement there was no physical way he could breastfed. This was my greatest upset in learning pre-birth about his cleft, having easily and happily fed his older sister til 13 months. I had amazing support from my midwife, lactation consultant and family-husband and was able to express exclusively for 13 months. It was an effort, especially on the weekly trips to Chch to get his wee plate adjusted for the first 4 months -1.5 hrs each way. Leaving the house meant pumping just before leaving so I would have a window of time to be out and about. I wouldn’t do anything differently though and he didn’t suffer from numerous ear infections that cleft babies are notorious for. I am now pregnant again and to our shock we are again having a baby with a complete cleft. 3-4% chance. I will express prebirth again and hope and pray to be able express for baby. My issue however is that funding for  breastpumps long term doesn’t seem to exist. We all know to get a good supply you need a good pump. Last time my lactation consultant even funded me for a few weeks herself…I ended up buying a pump. Which got worn out. Now we are entitled to child disability allowance, which was about $35 a week which would cover the cost, but there were a lot of other expenses with  weekly trips to Chch (travel paid for) but parking/food etc. also 2 surgeries in that first year which meant we needed to buy food – away from well as I am limited in the work I can pick up due to scheduled surgeries etc. I don’t expect things to be given to me, but when breatfeeding is something so promoted by govt, health authorities, I feel it needs to be supported by these agencies in practical ways. I am meeting with a LC in a couple of weeks, and hopefully things may have changed but if anyone know where funding may be accessed I would appreciate the info.
I will pay for rental and then buy a new pump – if i can pump- if necessary but I feel this needs to change in the future.
PS I was told that long term pumping is so uncommon that it is not something they would consider funding.

Thank you for reading my story.
Glenda Dawson


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