Birth is a strenuous process for everyone involved. You will be screaming and sweating through labor, your husband will be holding his breath as you grip his hand, and the nurse staff will be tirelessly focused on making sure you and your baby come out of the whole thing as healthy as possible. Even your baby will be stressed out. Not only does he have to leave the comfortable and warm world he knows, but he also has to make the tough journey through the birth canal. Though that’s exactly what the birth canal is for, it is still a difficult fit for your baby. So, it’s not hard to believe that he or she might come out with a battle scar or two from the journey. One such battle wound is called caput succedaneum.

If your baby looks like he or she has a blister on his or her head after delivery, it’s safe to assume that it is caput succedaneum. The condition is caused by a swelling that occurs in the soft tissues of a baby’s head as he or she travels through the birth canal. Since the baby’s head is out of the safety of the amniotic sac for the first time, the pressure might prove too much and a membrane might rupture. Luckily, this rupture is completely harmless, though it will leave a large blister-like bubble.

Generally, faster pregnancies reduce the likelihood of a baby getting caput succedaneum because they baby’s head will have spent less time under pressure in the birth canal. However, there is really no way of predicting whether or not your own baby will come out with the blister. Babies who are forced out with vacuum pressure almost always have the blister, but this method of birth assistance is becoming increasingly rare.

The blister caused by caput succedaneum will go away in only a few days after delivery. It might also be accompanied by bruising or discoloration. Nurses will notice the caput succedaneum, so there is no need to make an appointment with baby’s doctor about it, and there is no special care necessary. Though you might be disappointed with how the blister misshapes your baby’s beautiful head, rest assured that the condition is very temporary. In just a few days, your baby’s head will be completely normal and you can start taking those photos you’ve been waiting nine months to take.

Source: Caput Succedaneum and Facial Petechiae – Birth Associated Injuries in Healthy Newborns Under Forensic Aspects. International Journal of Legal Medicine Volume 126 Issue 3 pp. 385-390 May 2012

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