Caput Succedaneum – What you need to know about baby’s cone head
Doctor Fulaanah – Congratulations ma’am! How are you and your baby? Hope there’s no problem?
Umm Fulaan – Doctor, please I noticed that my baby’s head has a funny shape. It looks like there is a swelling there. Can you check?
Doctor Fulaanah – Oh. Okay. I have checked ma’am. There’s nothing to worry about. This is called caput succedaneum. It is a slight swelling due to accumulation of fluids under his scalp and it will resolve in the next few days.
Umm Fulaan – Oh. I see… But what caused the swelling?
Doctor Fulaanah – As the baby passes through the birth canal, there is a lot of pressure on his head. But the good thing is that the head can be “molded” in order to maneuver its way through. While pushing through the narrow passage, the soft tissues may become swollen temporarily. This is called caput and there are different degrees. Mild to moderate caput is common and it will resolve without any treatment. But severe caput is a red flag sign of obstructed labour.
Umm Fulaan – Wow! Are you saying that his case is mild to moderate? I pushed for almost an hour and I was already getting scared of obstructed labour because I have a friend who experienced that…
Doctor Fulaanah – It wasn’t obstructed labour ma’am. There are other signs that we could have seen before we make that diagnosis. One of them is severe moulding, whereby there is excessive overlapping of the bones of the baby’s skull.
Umm Fulaan – So, he didn’t have moulding, right? Isn’t that what they call oka ori in Yoruba?
Doctor Fulaanah – No, ma’am. There was no moulding and there is no such thing as oka ori. The sutures and fontanelles (soft spot) of an infant’s skull are believed to be abnormalities, but these are perfectly normal. In fact, moulding is also part of the adjustment to the baby’s skull during childbirth but it should be very minimal. As for your baby, I can assure you that he is perfectly okay. The swelling will go away in no time.
Umm Fulaan – But I’m still scared. Can you please do an X-ray to find out if it is just caput? What if there is blood under his scalp? I checked Google and I read about cephalhaematoma and subgaleal haematoma. They said…
Doctor Fulaanah – Madam, you need to calm down! Too much Google is worrying you. I have examined your baby and there is no sign of skull fracture or any form of haematoma. Your delivery was straightforward. We didn’t use any instrument like vacuum or forceps. There is no need to expose your baby to unnecessary X-ray.
Umm Fulaan – OK doc. I trust your judgement. Thanks for your time and I’m so sorry for bothering you.
Doctor Fulaanah – No problem ma’am. I’ll take a second look at your baby after some hours and my team will see you again before you are discharged…