The common newborn hip problem that nobody had prepared me for

Parenting Honestly

The common newborn hip problem that nobody had prepared me for

1.4K January 10, 2018
I hadn't a clue what they were saying.
My baby was just a day old and the doctors were telling me that she had hip dysplasia.
And she would need a brace.
I was devastated — but only because I had just become a mum for the first time, I was on a LOT of drugs and I didn't know then that this is a very common and not as serious as it sounds.
I just wish I had known it was something I may have to expect.
So what is it?
The hip has a ball and socket joint. In a baby, with a normal hip, the ball fits firmly into the socket. In babies with development dysplasia, the hip joint hasn't formed completely and the socket part is too shallow.
If you don't get it treated your child may have hip problems in later life. In our case, we were referred to Temple Street Children's hospital where my daughter was put into a Pavlick harness.
This soft brace is designed to gently position your baby's hips so they are aligned correctly at the joint and to keep the hip joints secure so your baby's little bone gets a chance to grow and secure the ball and socket joint.
We were told not to take it off and we had to come into Temple street each week to bathe the baby and the nurses would help us put it back on. It didn't hurt my little one at all — but it was really cumbersome for dressing her and changing her.
My second daughter got it too when she was born a few years later (it can be congenital) and her harness was removable at home.
Doctors usually treat this condition in six-week stints, then an x-ray will decide if the baby needs the harness again for another 6 weeks or maybe they recommend having it just at night.
It is called clicky hips because if the hip is very shallow baby's hips can click in and out quite easily (it doesn't hurt them at all)
In days gone by, parents would just put extra nappies on their child to keep their hips aligned in the 'froggy position'  - that is hips wide and legs bent upwards.
My daughter had been breech and chances are increased that your baby could have hip dysplasia because of the positioning in the womb.
Girls are more likely to get it and it is a good idea to ask your mum, aunts, grannies if they had a history of it in the family.
My sister had hip problems, my husband's sister had 'clicky hips' and both my daughters got it (my son didn't)
It is important to know that doctors sometimes overtreat for this as a preventative method  - so often they treat it even if hips are only slightly shallow just in case.
Luckily, my first daughter never had any issues after 12 weeks in the brace. I was dying to get it off so I could put her in tights and dresses. My second daughter is still being monitored at Temple Street and we will soon find out if she will need an operation on her hips or not. She came out of the brace after 12 weeks because the risk of dislocation is minimum at that stage.
Her hips are still quite shallow so she is borderline about getting the operation. We are hoping she won't need it (it's quite a minor surgery and very common) and usually happens before they are 2 and a half.
It took a little getting used to at first to present my newborn with a funny looking harness and to be honest I did feel quite self-conscious out and about as many people don't know what it is.
My advice would be to read up about it so you are prepared for it and to bear in mind it is usually a 12-week treatment plan.
Your doctor, midwife and public health nurse will always check for it so don't worry about trying to spot it yourself.
Here is some more information and I hope my experience can help someone else who's baby may be facing a similar diagnoses.
Parenting Honestly
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About me

I'm a writer and mum to three adventure-loving cuties. I enjoy trying to show my family as much of the world as possible in-between the school runs and writing about our latest adventure.