Our kids were all born via C-section. I tried to get the first two boys out through more conventional means, but they would have none of it. By the time numbers three and four came along, the decision to schedule the C-section was made as soon as I had a positive pregnancy test. Anybody who has labored for hours and ended up recovering from a C-section to boot will understand my reluctance to risk going through it for a third and fourth time. Uh-uh. No way.
When my doctor struggled to explain why it was that I couldn’t deliver naturally, my husband asked “Isn’t it obvious?” (as he scratched his enormous head). “Look at the size of his melon!” It’s true. My boys all have big heads, just like their Daddy. However, I can’t blame him entirely. My father also has a big head, so it runs in both sides of the family. I was doomed from the start!
Even though my boys have large heads they’re very nicely shaped. Not so for all babies. Have you seen a baby with a helmet and wondered what it was for? These little ones are usually suffering from plagiochephaly or “flat head syndrome”. Fortunately, it’s treatable. Even after treatment, however, the heads of some kids still look misshapen, but the main concern, that of a ridge in the forehead between the eyes, has been averted. So, is it preventable? Has all this advice about putting babies on their backs to sleep as a way to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) been counter-productive for these unfortunate few?
SIDS is a scary thing, no question about it. To prevent it, I’ve always avoided using too many covers (our kids were either tightly swaddled or covered with a single light blanket as infants). My sons never slept on their tummies until they could hold their heads upright (and then only occasionally during nap time). However, I was a VERY big fan of having them sleep on their sides. All of our boys were big “Urpers,” as in they spit up A LOT! So putting them to sleep on their backs would have been disasterous, in my opinion. They probably would have choked to death on regurgitated breast milk (yuck!).
To avoid this nastiness, I always placed them on their sides using an infant prop (when the prop was being washed I sometimes used a rolled up blanket behind their back). Instinctively, I decided to alternate which side they slept on (left on odd days, right on even days), thinking it would help keep their heads symmetrical. The fortuitous decision to switch sides, combined with propping them on their side in the first place, may have helped prevent plagiocephaly in my melon-headed boys. Whatever the case, they all have lovely (and by that I mean ruggedly handsome) heads.
Our neighbors haven’t been so lucky. Their infant daughter has plagiocephaly and a helmet (cute and pink, I might add). The other day her father was holding her in the checkout line at Toys’R’Us when a child behind them asked his mother why the baby had to wear a helmet. The mother replied, “Oh son. She’s just slow.” Good gracious! Fortunately, our neighbor had the wherewithal to turn around and say, “That’s the most ignorant thing I’ve ever heard.” I couldn’t agree more. I hope she’s out of the helmet soon and that her head regains a more normal shape.