June is Hip Dysplasia Awareness month, so I figured it was time to get this post up! When Baby Joe was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, there was a ton of medical information out there, but there wasn’t really anything practical – like what can he wear, how do I hold him, what products can I use? I really wanted to share our story, and all of the things that helped us along the way.
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When we first got our diagnosis, I felt so helpless – I don’t think I have ever cried that much in my life. It had already been a lot of back and forth with doctors – each appointment we got different news. Finally, at his 6-week ultrasound, they called and told us that we would need the harness. I was heartbroken. I felt like I was missing out on the best weeks of his life, and I felt like I was getting robbed of that. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to hold or cuddle him. And most of all, I was afraid that he would be miserable. From Day 1 he handled it like a trooper, and we actually got to a place where he preferred to have it on. He still sleeps with his legs in the froggy position. We go back for our X-Ray at the end of this month – so prying everything still looks good!
What is Hip Dysplasia?
According to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, Hip Dysplasia is often referred to as Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip or DDH and is generally the preferred term for babies and children with hip dysplasia since this condition can develop after birth. DDH is a medical term for general instability, or looseness, of the hip joint. It’s actually super common, and I was shocked that I had never heard of it before.
What Causes Hip Dysplasia?
The exact cause(s) are not known. However, it is widely believed that hip dysplasia is developmental. This is because hip dysplasia is known to develop around the time of birth, after birth, or even during childhood. This is also why hip dysplasia is often referred to as developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). The positioning of the baby in the womb can cause more pressure on the hip joints, stretching the ligaments. It’s thought that babies in a normal position in the womb have more stress on the left hip than on the right hip. This may be why the left hip tends to be more affected. Babies in the breech position are more likely to have hip instability than babies in a normal womb position and have an increased risk of DDH.
How is hip dysplasia treated?
Baby Joe’s doctor put him in a Pavlik Harness so start to treat his hip dysplasia. We were told he could be in it anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months. He wore it 24 hours a day for 6 weeks, with the occasional bath & washing of the harness being the only exceptions. After the 6 weeks, we got another ultrasound and he only had to wear it for naps and nights. Depending on the age of the baby and the severity of the dislocation, they may also need surgery or to be put into a Spica cast.
How Can I Hold My Baby?
This was my biggest anxiety about the whole thing. I held him so tight the night before thinking I would never be able to again, but then once it was on, it was totally fine! Obviously, things were a little different, but I don’t feel like I missed out on anything because of it. We do bottles only- so I can’t speak to how this affects breast-feeding! I actually almost felt safer with him in the harness because he couldn’t roll off of anything!
What about Tummy Time?
So this was the one downside of our whole experience. Because he couldn’t really be on his stomach at all, his head got flat from laying on his back so much. You can prop him up on a Boppy for tummy time, but we really couldn’t do this for extended periods of time.
How do they sleep?
We have the Snoo – and we spent way too much money on it to just give it up so I was determined to make it work – full review on it HERE. The Snoo sacks are actually super tight on the hips – I wish they would change them, so there is no way he could fit in one anymore. I put him in his Love to Dream swaddle and laid him on top of the Snoo sack with the arm straps around his waist.
I know this sounds SO silly but for whatever reason, I was really sad about all the clothes we bought that he wouldn’t ever wear. Obviously, I got over that on day 1. We LIVED in bodysuits and legwarmers!
This one fit over his harness, but they also make one specifically for babies in Pavliks – check it out here.
Trust me you want to wear these every day. We put these on over his harness for warmth and also to keep the harness clean (especially during diaper changes).
The shape of these will work over the harness. We just sized up and he still wears them now!
Since they can’t really wear pants (they can if you size up, but still annoying for diaper changes) – this was amazing for hanging around the house and going on walks!
Baby Joe didn’t love this – but I know a ton of mamas who are obsessed.
We were still able to use almost all of the things we bought for Baby Joe! We referenced this list to make sure it was “hip healthy” before we used it. But we got to keep using our swing, baby carrier, car seat etc.
Size up in diapers – so much easier to put on!
Use a sharpie to mark where the straps are supposed to be! That way you always know it’s on right! We only took it off for baths, outfit changes or if we had to wash the harness itself.
Roll up a towel or blanket under their legs if they seem uncomfortable in the Dock-a-Tot or bassinet.
Skip a feeding before the ultrasound – it’s horrible but I promise it will make it go by so much faster! You feed them during it, so they are super still!
If your baby’s legs are bending backward when you hold them, it’s probably too tight. We only went in to get it sized once in the six weeks because of Covid, but call your doc if it’s feeling tight – they grow SO fast, so it fits so differently in just a few weeks.