Hip dysplasia

After just a day of having our gorgeous baby girl she was diagnosed with Developmental Hip Dysplasia following her routine newborn physical examination. We wanted to share our experiences and what its like living with a newborn with hip dysplasia to help others in the same situation. Hopefully we can help ease the worry that parents feel in this horrible situation when you have been told your baby has something wrong as isn’t quite the perfect little munchkin we all imagine.

I’ll be honest – I’d never heart of hip dysplasia in humans, only in dogs from watching Supervet!”

I think witnessing the examination was one of the worst bits! Seeing the nurse move her legs around and her little hip pop out of place, hearing her crying, my heart ached! We were told she would need an ultrasound and within the hour we were taken down to the ultrasound department. She had bilateral hip dysplasia, meaning it was affecting both of her hips. 

We didn’t have a clue what it meant for the future for our little girl. Is she in pain? Can it be fixed? How much would it effect her? Would she be able to walk?

So what is Developmental Hip Dysplasia? (Also called Developmental Dysplasia of the hip and you may also see it shortened to DDH.)

(Image thanks to www.hipdysplasia.org)

Your hip joint connects your leg to your pelvis and is what is known as a ‘ball and socket’ joint. Developmental hip dysplasia is basically where the ball and socket hasn’t formed properly – the ‘socket’ in the pelvis is too shallow and so the ‘ball’ at the top of the leg isn’t held in place and can dislodge/dislocate. If only one hip is affected then it is called unilateral, when both hips are affected it is bilateral hip dysplasia.

The statistics at the time of writing this (2018) is that it affects about 1 in 1000 babies and is more common in firstborn children and girls. It is also more common in babies that were in the breech position during pregnancy. It can also be genetic, with it being 12 times more likely if there is a family history of dysplasia.

For more information on hip dysplasia check out the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.

Some answers…

Earlier I listed the main questions we had when we first found out. Now I have explained a little about what Developmental Hip Dysplasia is I will tell you the answers we have discovered to these questions:

  • Is she in pain? – The simple answer – Nope. At such a young age it causes no pain whilst they are just laying there not able to do much.
  • Can it be fixed? – Yes! Don’t panic – in the majority of cases, especially those caught early, it is fixed before they are trying to walk! I will explain a little about treatments below.
  • How much would it affect her and will she be able to walk? – If treatments work then it shouldn’t affect the overall mobility of the child as they grow older. However without treatment then it could result in a limp, hip pain and painful and stiff joints. They can still kick around and move their legs in the harness, and should! The only thing they can’t do is roll over.


There are both surgical and non-surgical treatments dependant on the severity and how the hip is formed, but don’t panic! In my experience they prefer to go down the non-surgical route if they can.

It seems the most common type of treatment is a Pavlik Harness, especially in the UK. This is a specially designed harness that gently aligns the baby’s hips into a secure position to encourage the socket to naturally deepen and develop as it should. This is the treatment I know the most about as this is what our little girl is in, so this will be the focus of the rest of the post. There are other non-surgical treatments which are more prevalent in other countries I believe.

Surgical methods are more often used if the child is diagnosed after it is 6 months old or if non-surgical treatments haven’t had the desired effect.

Again, for more information you can look at the NHS website or the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.

So, what does a Pavlik Harness look like?

Well here is one of my favourite photos of our little girl and all she is wearing her harness and a nappy.

The harness is made up of straps with Velcro so it is adjustable as they grow. It keeps their legs at 90 degrees out to the side to aid the joints the form properly. Every week we go and see the lovely nurses at the orthopaedics department of our local hospital who check there are no problems with the harness and adjust it as she grows, marking on the harness where the straps go to, so when we take it off we know where to put them back to.

Everyone I talk to who has a child in a pavlik harness has different things prescribed for them by their consultant. Our little girl was allowed 30 minutes a day out of her harness, but others aren’t allowed any time out at all so make sure you follow your practitioners recommendations! I won’t lie, on a couple of occasions we have had her out for a little longer, for our photoshoot for example, but then we would not take it off the next day. It doesn’t seem to have had any impact on the harness working, but we have only done it a couple of times and made sure we didn’t make a habit of it.

I hope this has given you an oversight of hip dysplasia, my next post is about day to day living with a harness. Watch this space!

5 essentials to survive the first few weeks of parenthood (on top of the basics)

The last few weeks have been a huge learning curve for all three of us since bringing our little princess home. There have been a few things that have been worth their weight in gold to make thing so much easier for us in settling in to our new world of being parents so I thought I’d share them (in no particular order – they have all been lifesavers at some point!):

A flask

Nope not for your tea or coffee, although this could also be an extra requirement once the lack of sleep kicks in! We keep a flask of warm water with the changing mat etc for wetting the cotton wool. Saves you having to remember to get some water every time and is a god send through the night! Just tip a bit in the lid and clean away without shocking your little one with cold water and making the experience even worse for them (they don’t like it enough as it is in those early days!). Even better it’s portable so you can chuck it in your changing bag for on the go too! No need to make sure you find somewhere with water to change your little one – you’ll be ready to go anywhere – because let’s face it, they don’t wait for a convenient time to go!

The Gro company newborn Grosnug

This newborn, hip safe swaddle come sleeping bag is fab! No need to know how to swaddle – it just zips up around the arms but allows the legs space to move around and relax comfortably.

This was even better for us with our little one being diagnosed with hip dysplasia and having to wear a pavlik harness from week 1. It stops them waking themselves through arm movements and makes them feel safe and secure. It also helped stop our little one from rolling over onto her side.

Natura breast pump – not for pumping but for catching those leaks!!

I didn’t realise that when breastfeeding your brain sends a signal to your breasts to produce milk but doesn’t specify which breast the baby is latching onto – so the signal goes to both! So when you have your little one latched onto one breast, the other is also producing milk and this can lead to massive leaking incidents! Before I discovered this pump, I would be juggling the baby – getting it to latch, as well as trying to wedge a pot to catch the leak under the other boob somehow – it didn’t usually end well!

This breast pump (or similar) is perfect for catching these leaks handsfree! You just squeeze it to create a vacuum and then place it on the breast that your not feeding from and let go, the vacuum created holds the pump in place to catch the leaks. It even comes with milk storage bags so you can save your leaks and freeze them for the future! As a side note it comes with a little stand and lid and looks a bit like a spaceship ready to launch!

Pram footmuff

We got given a Mama & Papas footmuff and have put it to good use but not in the pram… we use it around the house! It is great to place on your sofa, table etc with the baby inside and the zips done up – it stops any risk of them rolling off the surface! It’s been a god send and meant we don’t need a Moses basket downstairs as the footmuff is super easy to move around to wherever you need it! We even used it when we went out for dinner for the first time since being parents – we placed our little one in it on the bench next to me whilst we ate – no need to worry about them being in a car seat too long in the restaurant!

A feeding tracker

With baby brain and lack of sleep, just remembering what boob you last gave your little one to feed on or what time the last feed was, and therefore when they are due a feed, is much harder than it should be! So grab yourself a notepad to keep track of it (I’m sure there is probably an app out there somewhere for it too but I like good old fashioned pen and paper).

I picked up this little notepad from the range for about 50p and got creative with it to make it more interesting:

Oh and here’s a bonus tip too, something else that has been a lifesaver some nights… you tube!! Amazingly there are videos, well more sound bites really, of white noise – our little one loves the tumble dryer one – it’s 10 hours of tumble dryer noise! Just pop it on when they are settling or won’t settle and it helps calm them! We just leave it playing whilst we all fall asleep – you learn to tune it out if it means you get to sleep!

So there you have it, our lifesaving hacks and tips that have kept us sane (almost) in or first few weeks of parenthood! I hope they help you too – and I’m sure there will be more tips to come as we continue adulting/parenting.

Thanks for reading, feel free to share on Pinterest and social media!

Much love, Gina & Tom x