Coping with my baby’s hip dysplasia wasn’t easy at first! She was x-rayed when she was exactly 4 months old. Two days later our GP called & referred us to the hospital pediatric department. The doctor looked at the x-ray and said our daughter has severe hip dysplasia. She was put into a brace right then and there. Two weeks later, we saw a specialist at Crumlin hospital in Dublin. Our daughter has had lots x-rays & appointments tracking her development since. It’s been a difficult, emotional journey. My daughter was in a brace 24hrs a day 7 days a week for 3 months. Then she graduated to wearing the brace 12hrs at night, with it off during the day, for another 4 months.
Today, my daughter is 2yrs & 4months old. Her left hip is perfect, her right hip is still 4 degrees off. She is no longer wearing a brace. The hope is that running and playing with help her hip come right itself the last little bit. If my daughter’s hip doesn’t correct itself, she will need a surgery to fix it and will be casted afterward. The doctor is waiting until she is 4 or 5 to give her hip a chance to come right. We have graduated to yearly check-ups to track her progress.
What is Hip Dysplasia?
Briefly, hip dysplasia is a condition present at birth where the hip ball doesn’t fit into the hip socket properly. The socket isn’t formed right and the ball slips in and out. Our daughters hips were both severely off what they should be. The brace holds the hips at a 90-degree angle and that helps the bone to grow into the correct, rounded shape. In come cases, a cast is used first and a brace after.
Starting at the Beginning.
Our GP was concerned at the 6 week check up. She felt my daughter’s hips slip when she moved them. She referred us for an x-ray for when my daughter would be 4-months-old. I googled it and found signs and symptoms of hip dysplasia that you can check at home. I did the tests and her two hips seemed the same. Little did I know that was because both her hips were affected! I went into the x-ray thinking everything was fine and they were just being super careful.
I got the absolute shock of my life when the GP rang that they were concerned. Still, when we went to the first hospital appointment, I never expected they’d put her into a brace, let alone that day. After receiving the news, I sat and cried waiting outside the plaster room. I was worried for her, what it all meant and also how I’d manage her in a brace. My mind couldn’t process it all. Luckily, the nurse who fitted my daughter’s brace was very kind and sympathetic. They showed us how to put it on, take it off, & adjust it. As you can see, the brace has three straps and some padding to hold her hips at the perfect angle for developing the hip sockets.
Two things stood out to me immediately when we got home. First, there was now a barrier between me and my baby. She wasn’t easy to hold anymore and didn’t feel as cuddly. This was heart-breaking. Rationally, I knew she’s still my same beautiful baby and I knew that this was what was best for her. But, that didn’t change the fact that emotionally, holding my baby didn’t feel right anymore. Second, the brace had hard, pokey velcro & metal pieces sticking out all over the outside of it. They dug into my arms, leaving marks & the velcro pulled my clothes and created pills. Not only was there a barrier to holding my baby, but the barrier was painful.
Coping with the Brace.
I tried a couple ideas to minimize the brace discomfort until I discovered putting a diaper/nappy on the outside of the brace. I used Huggies Size 6 because they were the best fit. They stretch out and cover the full of the brace. This made it more comfortable for me to hold my daughter. There still was the feeling of a barrier, but it was getting more bearable and I was getting used to it.
Breastfeeding was tricky the first few times. Her leg was up in the air and seemed very uncomfortable. I would put the nursing pillow between her legs to support them and she would lay slightly on her back rather than curled into me. This was also heart-breaking as snuggling in for a breastfeed was important to both of us. She could no longer lay side by side with me.
The car seat was also an issue. I had to buy a new one that was wider to fit her brace. Luckily she fit in the high chair we had. There were lots of considerations and things I had once taken for granted became difficult.
The brace sticks out at the lower back. So when my daughter was layed down flat, I was afraid that the brace would dig into her back & be uncomfortable. For playtime, I folded a duvet in half for her to lay on, so it would be nice and soft under the brace. The first few nights she kept waking up as she couldn’t get comfortable. She was used to sleeping on her side and now she was restricted to her back all of the time. I put a blanket under her fitted sheet to make it softer and she began to sleep again.
For girls, a pair of tights or leggings inside the brace works really great because they are smooth and don’t’ bunch up. I think if my daughter was a boy, I’d have put him on leggings too (not pink) because they were the handiest thing for under the brace.
The beach was difficult. We had an amazing heat wave that summer and went to the beach a few times. The sand gets stuck in the velcro and my daughter was roasting hot with it on, so the trips were short lived.
As a breastfed baby, she had breastfed baby poops – which are often times explosive and runny. The brace was able to be wiped, but it stained. We had it changed for a fresh one after a couple months. I read a suggestion of putting sanitary pads around the inside of a brace or cast to keep it clean if baby has diarrhea.
The most difficult aspect of the brace was my daughter being immobilized for months. She was an active baby and had rolled over before she was 4 months old. After the brace went on, she was extremely restricted. After a month when she was used to it, she started to wiggle around a bit & was able to sit up in the brace. I tried to keep her entertained with different toys and different surroundings.
It was the happiest day ever when the doctor reduced the brace time to 12 hours a day. I’ll never forget leaving the hospital with my daughter brace free! She had her legs stretched in front of her in her stroller. I was able to cuddle her and breastfeed her so easily and happily. She fit so nicely in her car seat! All of these things I had taken for granted were back and better than ever!!
I’m so grateful that her condition was caught and treated when she was little. We continue to have check-ups at the children’s hospital & I’m hopeful that she won’t need future treatment. Stay tuned for more updates!
Continue this story.
Our Days at Crumlin Children’s Hospital – what our days are like at the clinic & advice for parents doing the same.
The Best News EVER – the end of our hip dysplasia journey.
Support & More Info.
* There are several Hip Dysplasia support groups on Facebook.
* I found the International Hip Dysplasia site quite good for information.
* Read some hip healthy tips for caring for baby. Certain car seats, carriers & slings aren’t recommended, even for babies with healthy hips.
* I was told was to lift baby under their bum when changing, rather than by the feet or legs.
If you have anything to add, I’d love to hear it in the comments.