How can I help my baby?
Hip bracing is used to hold your babys hips in a position to promote proper growth and development of her hips. The hip brace will hold her legs apart and turn them outwards, in a frog-legged position. This can pose a few challenges for both parent and baby because of the restricted movement. You may find the simplest things such as breastfeeding, nappy changing, swaddling and car travel become quite challenging.
To help your baby adjust to her hip brace or spica cast, try and make sure she is as comfortable as possible. Ask your babys specialist about the best way to hold her, position her at bedtime and get them to demonstrate how to put your babys brace on and off.
Do make sure she has ample padding between the cuffs of the brace and her skin to avoid any rubbing or friction. The brace should not be too loose or tight. Again, your babys orthotist or specialist should show you exactly how the brace should be fitted.
Dress your baby in comfortable, baggy clothes such as baggy grow suits, wide legged baby pants and/or legwarmers. Clothes worn over the brace should not force your babys legs together.
If you have been swaddling your baby at night, you will find the brace prevents you from doing this. It is still possible to swaddle your babys top half, if you find that helps her flailing her arms around. You may also find a wide-bottomed sleep sack works well too.
Most importantly, try and imagine how you might feel with this restricted movement and think carefully about what might make your baby more comfortable. For example, if you need to take a long car journey, stop regularly and give your baby a break from sitting in the car seat. If youre permitted to give your baby an hour off from brace time, make sure she utilises this to the max: with a bath, play time and maybe a massage. If you have any concerns or queries, get in touch with your babys specialist or maternal health nurse.
DDH can develop over time in any child whether they are at high or low risk so it is important that you get your babys hips regularly checked during the first year of her life and this is most likely to be done each time you visit your babys maternal health nurse.
Early detection and treatment of DDH is important, because if the condition is discovered much later in your babys life, it may result in complex surgery. Or if your babys DDH is undiagnosed and left untreated, it could result in severe hip pain when she is older and encourage early onset of osteoarthritis.
*”Her is used throughout the article due to the higher incidence of DDH cases in female infants.
For more information, please visit www.hipbabes.com.au – the online resource for parents with hip dysplasia babies. The information included on Hip Babes website is for your information only, and is by no means a substitute for the advice of a qualified medical practitioner.
Conditions caused by defects in physical development. Nursing Care of Infants and Children. 7th edition, Hockenberry, Wong et al. 2003. Paediatric Handbook, 7th edition, Paxton et al, 2003.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Clinical Practice guidelines: Early detection of developmental dysplasia of the hip. Pediatrics 2000
Griffin PP, Robertson WW Jr. Orthopedics. In: Avery GB, Fletcher MA, MacDonald MG, editors. Neonatology: Pathophysiology and management of the newborn. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 1999