24/02/2014 07:32 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

One Born Every Minute Birth: My Beautiful Baby Had A Cleft Lip

My One Born Every Minute Birth: My beautiful baby has a cleft lipCarolyn and Jamie today

You may have seen Carolyn Sinclair give birth. She's one of the many amazing women who feature in the Channel 4 series One Born Every Minute.

When she was first approached about taking part, she said no. But then she found out that her unborn baby had a cleft lip, and decided it would be a good way to raise awareness.

This week, Carolyn, 38, and her husband John, 37, who are both dentists, sat down to watch their son Jamie being born, while the five-month-old slept soundly in his cot, just weeks after a successful operation to repair his cleft.

Having had a fairly straightforward pregnancy and birth with their first son, Patrick, now three, John and Carolyn felt relaxed as they went for their 20 week scan for their second baby.

My One Born Every Minute Birth: My beautiful baby has a cleft lipCarolyn and John on One Born Every Minute

"As I lay in the darkened room it was obvious to me that the sonographer had found a problem, she kept going back and trying to get a better look and she eventually asked us if we had 'heard of a cleft lip?'," says Carolyn.

A cleft occurs during early pregnancy, when separate areas of the face develop individually and then join together. If some parts don't join properly, the result is a cleft, which can vary in type and severity. The condition affects one in seven hundred babies born in the UK.

"I think it helped that we were dentists because we knew straight away what sort of treatments were available," says Carolyn.

"I made my mind up early on to be as positive as I could, researching the condition, joining online groups to chat to other parents or adults who had had clefts themselves."

My One Born Every Minute Birth: My beautiful baby has a cleft lipA 3D scan of Jamie in the womb

A cleft lip can come with a cleft palate, but you can also have either one without the other. A cleft lip is a condition that creates an opening in the upper lip between the mouth and nose. A cleft palate - essentially where the roof of the mouth is not joined properly - comes with the potential risk of speech and hearing problems.

"We had 3D scans to visualise the cleft lip, which I found very helpful," says Carolyn. "The sonographer looked at our baby swallowing and his tongue position and thought the palate was ok but we would have to wait until he was born to know for sure."

It was around this time that Carolyn agreed to take part in the documentary series filmed on a maternity ward, One Born Every Minute: "I had watched it before and loved the programme. I was asked at a routine appointment and at first I said no. But as time went on I thought it would be a good way to raise awareness for cleft lip and palate, a condition it seems very little is known about, so I decided to go for it."

My One Born Every Minute Birth: My beautiful baby has a cleft lipJamie before his operation

Baby Jamie was born last October weighing 7lb 8oz, all caught on camera. His palate was fine, the cleft only affecting his lip, although he has a notch in his gum in line.

"Because the palate was not affected, I was able to breastfeed, which I was thrilled about," says Carolyn.

When Jamie was four months old, he had the operation to join his lip together:

"Many people said I wouldn't want to change Jamie's appearance and they were right. Whilst I was pregnant I couldn't understand this. But when it came to it, to me my boy was perfect cleft or no cleft and I felt guilty for changing him. Obviously Jamie had to have the surgery, but still to this day I miss his massive smiles, but equally love his new post-surgery smile."

My One Born Every Minute Birth: My beautiful baby has a cleft lipJamie, just out of theatre after the operation to mend his cleft

When he came round from the two-hour operation, Jamie was distressed, but he had been given morphine and within a couple of hours he was feeding.

Jamie has recovered really well and is a happy, smiley five-month-old. He will probably require a bone graft operation when he is about 10 to repair the notch in his gum, but until then no more surgery.

The reaction to the family's appearance on One Born Every Minute, which aired on Wednesday, March 21, has been overwhelmingly positive.

"We were hiding behind cushions a bit and cringing but I don't regret doing it for a moment as it was to raise awareness for these kids," says Carolyn.

My One Born Every Minute Birth: My beautiful baby has a cleft lipJamie, pre-op, with his older brother Patrick, three

John is now planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds CLAPA, the Cleft Lip and Palate Association.

Sue Carroll, Chief Executive Officer of the charity says: "The level of knowledge amongst general health practitioners, including sonographers, paediatricians and neonatal nurses can be quite poor and there are a lot of misconceptions around the condition.

"I think it's great that Carolyn did this. One Born Every Minute is a very well made documentary and a perfect medium. It does raise awareness because it sticks in people's minds."

For more information on cleft lips and palates, visit the CLAPA website at

Was your baby born with a cleft lip?

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