This subject is also based upon my own experiences as well as an article, or the comment section rather, that was posted on Facebook. The article I saw was about the increased cases of babies needing helmets due to flat head syndrome. I have experience in this topic so I read the article as well as the comments section to see if there were some women with the same experience or support. Do you think there was support in the comments? Hell no. There were a bunch of judgmental mothers with a sprinkle of support. One of the comments was a good page rant. I will quote her verbatim, “Hold your kids, people. Tummy time. That sort of thing. Because the biggest reason they are seeing this more often anymore is because folks leave their babies in car seats or similar things all day. Leave them laying in their cots all the time. Don’t do enough tummy time. Lord, it doesn’t hurt you to cuddle your kid once in a while (insert smug rolling eyes smiley face.” I have several issues with this statement. I will preface with my own experience. My babies of course are twins, identical twins at that, meaning they shared a placenta. Despite the fact that I am not a small framed woman my boys were 5 lbs 10 oz and 5 lbs 5 oz when they were born. The womb was cramped! When the boys were about two months old the doctor noticed that Noah’s head was starting to get flat on one side. I was devastated. She could see it written all over my face that I felt like I had ruined my precious baby. The doctor immediately reassured me that it was not my fault. She diagnosed Noah with torticollis. The muscles in his neck were tight, probably from the womb, and he was favoring his right side. She sent me home with exercises, suggested re-positioning and more tummy time. I diligently did two different exercises three times a day with Noah but I also did them with Gabriel. I figured it could only benefit him. It wasn’t a month later that the nurse that visits the house noticed that Gabriel’s head was starting to become flat too, he had been favoring his left side. I kept up with their exercises and at the four month visit they were re-evaluated. The doctor said she had seen some worsening in their flat spots and referred us to a plastic surgeon. I am not going to sit here and say that I think that their flat spots are solely from the torticollis. I will take some blame. Having two infants is hard. They cannot physically be held all day. It’s impossible. This was always one of the things I struggled with when they were tiny babies. That I wanted to hold each of them and give them as much love as possible, but I could not. I am outnumbered and quite frankly I did not know what I was doing. They spent some time on Boppys next to me and they loved their swings. In fact that is where they napped. In retrospect would I have done that? If I have another baby will I make the same mistakes? NO. But I did what I could the best way I could do it.
Before Kyle, my husband and I, could visit the plastic surgeon we had to go get scans of the babies’ heads. We did that then the same day we had an appointment with the plastic surgeon or the plastic surgeon’s nurse practitioner rather. When the nurse practitioner came in she immediately said the boys didn’t need surgery. I didn’t even think that was an option so it completely threw me off and put me on edge. She basically said that the boys’ heads were cosmetic problems and could be improved one of two ways: re-positioning or with helmets. I already had in my head that we would have to get helmets. I asked her what she recommended and she said that is your decision . But I came to an expert for expertise. I didn’t feel that I go that. I told her we would go with the helmets. I thought that is why we were there and it would be taken care of and that’s what the scans were for. Nope. She told me she would give me a referral to an orthotics lab. She told me I could head over that day. I told her that we had already been there for 3 hours and the boys were getting restless so it probably wouldn’t happen. We had an appointment for the lab a week later. I will make this short and some of my issues may be petty. When we went to the orthotic lab the boys had a second scan, this one was kind of like a Xerox machine. That doctor came in and said he was surprised that we did not come in the day we went to the plastic surgeon’s office. He said the nurse had text him and said we would be on our way. This struck me as odd, but whatever. He then told me that Noah and Gabe’s heads were basically moderately “deformed” and there was a possibility that the helmets would help. He said we would have to get approval from insurance and then come in for ANOTHER scan and then the helmets could be formed. I told him that we could probably get approval from insurance that day because my husband is in the union and his benefits are handled by his hall. The orthotics doctor (or whatever he is) immediately dismissed what I said and said we would have to come in for another scan irregardless. There were a couple more things that I thought were odd but I knew in that instance that this just seemed like a racket. To make a long story shortish we decided to opt out of getting the helmets. I just feel like as a new mom I was never informed. Maybe its common sense but I was more worried about keeping my babies alive than thinking about avoiding a flat spot. Kyle and I were basically told but a baby to sleep on its back or it will die of SIDS. Never once had anyone told me to rotate the babies’ heads not once. Prior to the babies coming, Kyle and I took a four hour new baby course. Never once was it mentioned that you should rotate your babies’ heads. Leaving the hospital with the babies they tell you countless things, rotating your babies’ heads wasn’t one of them. At the 5 times I was at the pediatrician’s office before the babies turned a month, never once was I told to rotate the babies’ heads. In retrospect it really is common sense, but never did I think about it or know about the repurcutions. I thought I was doing the right thing by putting my babies to sleep on their backs and that was enough.
Let me go back to that woman’s statement that basically a baby will not get a flat spot if they are held and that is why babies are starting to get more flat head syndrome. This statement is uneducated and quite frankly ignorant. I saw a study that the prevalence of flat head syndrome is at a rate of 47% in infants. Is this because mothers are just laying down their babies and forgetting about them all day? NO! It’s contributed to the back to sleep campaign. Do I blame the campaign? Absolutely not. It’s been documented and proved that this has helped decrease the instances of SIDS. I do, however, blame the lack of education of how to help avoid flat head syndrome. Even if I had rotated my babies’ heads there is still a good chance that this still would have been an issue because of the torticollis but that’s not my point at the moment. But at the end of the day I would take a minor cosmetic issue and drastically reduce the risk of SIDS any day.
Just within the last month and a half the babies have gotten much stronger and more tolerant of tummy time. They spend a good 45-70 minutes on their tummies for tummy time. Gabriel has also developed a preference of laying on his side. They also sit in their high chairs, bouncer and walker much more throughout the day, spending much less time on their backs. Within the last month I’ve noticed a dramatic improvement in their heads. The flat spot is rounding out. No helmet needed.
Once again there seems to be a trend I see on social media and everywhere and that is mom shaming. As said yesterday in my blog, I am not sure if it is because people think they are better than everyone else or if they say these things to make themselves feel better because of their own insecurities and inadequacies. Either way, women need to ban together. Uplift each other, give advice when it is asked but don’t pass judgment in others. And when you make such blanket statements without evidence to back it up, understand that you sound like an ignorant ass!