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Newborn and Infant Care

soft tissues of the head after giving birth

04/27/2004

Question:

i gave birth last april 13 this year and i noticed that my daughter had soft bulky thing on her right part of the head. the pediatrician said that it will gone for two to three weeks but i`m worried because i never experienced it with my previous birth. can you tell me what`s this thing after giving birth?They said it`s normal since i gave birth by normal delivery.

Answer:

There are two types of soft swellings that can appear on a newborn`s head. The first one is called caput succedaneum and refers to tissue swelling across the top of the head from prolonged pressure on the skull bones as the baby has come through the birth canal. That usually disappears in a day or two. The other common soft swelling is a cephalohematoma, which is a collection of blood under the scalp and over the bone on one side of the head. Again, it is a common trauma from the birthing process frequently seen when vacuum extraction is used to help deliver the baby, but can occur even without it. It may take months for a cephalohematoma to resolve. The only potential problem the baby might experience, and this is uncommon, is that she could have a higher than normal bilirubin level, also called jaundice, that you will see as a yellow discoloration of her skin and the whites of her eyes. This is easily seen by looking at your daughter`s skin under a good light. Depress the skin over her breastbone or thigh bone. If you observe the blanched skin to be yellow, contact your pediatrician. Fortunately neither condition is cause for serious concern.

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Response by:

Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University