How did you find your Orthotist?
We live in Dubbo so it was a 12 hour round trip for us to see our Nova our Orthotist in Newcastle, NSW. I found Nova via my own research and searching for someone who treats babies with flat heads.
How mild or severe was Ally’s head shape when you were first measured?
When Ally was first assessed we were in the mild or middle range, this made it really tricky. We were told you would benefit from a helmet, but you don’t necessarily need one, it might fix itself, you can decide. This made our decision much harder.
When did you notice the flat spot?
Ally was born 4 weeks premature; we were told she would have a softer head and between one and two months old we started to notice a flat spot, our GP and the maternal nurse offered us advice on repositioning and told us everything would be fine. At five months, I was like, ‘This is not working, she is still flat.’
Did you try repositioning therapy?
Yes, we did and the flat spot may have slightly improved but not to me. The GP referred me to a physio, again more repositioning therapy but I wasn’t convenience it was working. It was then I did my own research. I googled first and the results from ‘baby with flat head’ was probably plagiocephaly or brachycephaly. Then I found the Facebook support group for Australia, which was really good. I sent some of the Mum’s on there a message to find out about their experience. After messaging with them I decided to go ahead and get an assessment.
‘Choosing to put her in a helmet was the hardest decision’
The physio was shocked I was thinking about it, I think she thought I was a crazy overprotective Mum. I wish the GP or someone had pushed me in the right direction instead of me having to do all the research and make all the phone calls myself.
I found Nova and after the assessment, it was super hard to make the decision. We sat around for many days talking and thinking about it. We knew deep down the answer was yes, to a helmet but it took time.
Our darling little baby in a plastic helmet for months, I didn’t want to do that to her. I kept thinking ‘I’ll regret this forever if I don’t do it’. I was really looking for some reassurance before we moved ahead with the helmet.
How long did it take to adjust to the helmet?
It was probably more difficult for us as parents than Ally, but everyone was supportive, very encouraging with their comments, and said it looked great and really suited her. You worry about being criticised even though in the long run you know it will be beneficial. Everyone in my mothers’ group, friends, family were just so good. Ally was fine, she had no issues at all, no red spots, no nothing. She took to it really easy and we didn’t really need to ease her into it, after a day or so we just went to full-time wear.
Ally’s older sister, Amelia who is three years old, on day one she was interested and kept wanting to touch the helmet. She just started to realise it was a part of Ally and she used to help me wash the liners.
‘We had our helmet in the summer’
I was a bit worried about overheating her, out here it can be up to 45 degree’s in the middle of summer, but she was fine. I changed the liner every day and it was just easy. It might sound vain, but I wanted a Serkel helmet because of the way they look. The helmet looked nice compared to other chunky helmets I was looking at online. The helmet is light, it’s easy, Ally didn’t know she had it on.
You have this beautiful new baby to show off to the world and you want them to look good. The look of the Serkel helmet absolutely lessens the embarrassment, looked nice, and helped me make the decisions, it helped us a lot. We’ll always keep the helmet to show Ally when she’s old, that she wore it when she was a baby.
How long did Ally wear the helmet for?
She wore it for four months and it went so quickly. When I was researching, the average helmet wear time of four months seems so long, but it went so quickly and now we can hardly remember it. I now look at her head, it’s so round and I’m really happy with it. After 2 weeks of helmet therapy we noticed a difference, it took fourth months for us to get to the end and a round head, but in the first two weeks, we noticed such a difference.
What advice would you offer to other parents?
I found it hard to find information and if I can help any Mum in the same situation, I would really like to and happy to help. I know as a mother I worried, so much more than my baby. If I could offer my past self or any Mum in the same position advice it would be “it’s not a bad experience at all, just to know the experience is fine’. I remember being a month into our helmet therapy and thinking all that worry for nothing. I want other Mum’s to know it’s not scary or a negative experience.