There’s a chance your baby might come out looking like a cone head. It’s every expectant parent’s worst fear – after nine months of imagining this perfect, glimmering baby that is growing inside the womb, the baby comes out with a few noticeable imperfections. However, your baby’s misshapen head is actually nothing to be concerned about. Many babies are born with heads that are not perfectly round because the bones in their skull shift during vaginal birth. In fact, these shifting bones make injury less likely as your baby pushes through the narrow birth canal. If they head shape did not adjust, there would be a great deal of pressure on your baby’s delicate skull.

First, it’s important to know that your baby’s head will assume a more round shape in only a few days or weeks. The change will be slow, but before you know it you’ll be looking at the beautiful baby you had been imagining. It’s also important to understand why the head molds into a cone shape during birth. Your little one’s skull is made up of bony plates with gaps between them called cranial sutures. If you gently feel your baby’s head, you can feel these soft spots. After your baby’s head goes back to normal, the gaps will also give the brain room to grow. As adults, we no longer have cranial sutures because our head has reached its full size and the gaps have been closed by the plates of our skull.

There is really no way to prevent a molded head during vaginal birth. Of course, a cesarean section would prevent it, but it would be silly to take the surgical risk only to ensure the roundness of your baby’s head for the first few days. Even if your baby’s head seems severely misshapen after birth, he or she will only require a few days to look normal again.

Your doctor and nurses will know if there is actually a deformity in your baby’s head shape during delivery, so there’s no need to worry about your baby’s health if he or she comes out looking conical. The issue is extremely common, so you should mentally prepare yourself for it before delivery. A misshaped head probably isn’t even the only thing you might find odd about your newborn. He or she might be a different color and have more hair than you’d ever imagined.

Source: Armandine Rubio et al: The Moulded Baby Syndrome. European Journal Pediatrics. Volume 168 Issue 5 pp. 605-611