Did you know that swaddling your baby too tight can be harmful and can possibly damage their hips?
As a first time mum, all you want to know is, well, EVERYTHING! You read and read and read all this information and it’s exhausting especially because there are so many opinions these days and you have no idea what’s right or wrong. For example, when we had our children, we read everywhere and were even told by some medical professionals that swaddling your baby tight like a cocoon is the best thing for your baby and that it makes them sleep better. NOPE. WRONG!
What is Hip Dysplasia?
Hip Dysplasia, also known as Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH), is a condition that affects the hip joints in babies, young children, and some adults. In most cases, DDH is picked up and diagnosed in the first few weeks of life. Among its symptoms according to Boston Children’s Hospital include, and I quote:
- The leg on the side of the dislocated hip may appear shorter.
- The leg on the side of the dislocated hip may turn outward.
- The folds in the skin of the thigh or buttocks may appear uneven.
- The space between the legs may look wider than normal.
If you swaddle your baby tightly, they can get DDH. DDH, if not picked up at a young age, is much harder to treat and usually requires invasive treatment, such as surgery. It will cause more problems on their hips and they will even be more prone to osteoarthritis.
Oliver and Angelina
Our youngest children, Oliver and Angelina, both have DDH. Both cases were not detected early. Oliver’s DDH was picked up when he was 4 months old. He had to wear a hip brace, also known as Denis Browne Bar, 23/7. He is 9 months old now and we have just recently been told that he now only has to wear his hip brace at night times. YAY!
Angelina’s DDH, on the other hand, was picked up when she was 12.5 months old. She just recently had an Open Reduction operation, which also consisted of bone cutting and grafting, called osteotomy, and is now in a plaster (spica) cast covering the majority of her little body for the next 12 weeks. Angelina’s DDH was more serious and the full recovery process is unknown.
Angelina was in a cast for thirteen weeks. The cast goes from her chest down to her ankles, with a cut out for her nappy. On the 25th of May, Angelina was again put under anaesthetic. We had been counting down to this day for weeks. Angelina’s cast was removed and she now wears a ‘rhino’ brace. It is unknown how long exactly she will need to wear this brace as it all depends on how well her hip is growing and developing.
At nine months of age, Oliver’s brace time was reduced to night time only. At ten months of age, we were advised that Oliver’s hips were developing normally and he became brace-free! Hip hip hooray! Oliver will require screening of his hips as he grows.
It is devastating seeing your child like this. There is no other way to put it. IT’S HARD! You have to be a strong mummy for your whole family to reassure them, to give your other child the same attention. You are a walking zombie at the start because your beautiful child isn’t mobile and their fun happy little self. All you have to do is remind yourself that it’s helping them and every day, things will get easier. The best part about it is they probably won’t even remember it. Well, some will, depending on their age.
It is hard adapting to their new ‘hippy’ life but each new day it gets easier. For us, it gave us motivation and we, therefore, wanted to create more awareness.
The Hip Hip Hooray Campaign for Hip Dysplasia
We have started an awareness campaign for Hip Dysplasia. It is called Hip Hip Hooray – Raising Awareness for Hip Dysplasia. Our goal is to help other parents to be aware of the risk factors such as incorrect swaddling, to support one another, and most importantly to create awareness to hopefully decrease late diagnosis of DDH.
Early detection is very important to not only fix abnormalities early, but speed up the recovery process. Costs are also considerably less than that of a late diagnosed case.
Since starting our campaign, it has come to our attention that over 80% of people that have contacted us have cases that were detected late. While making people aware of this condition, we believe that there should be a preventative measure in place for all newborns. If there was a mandatory bulk-billed screening, the number of late-diagnosed Hip Dysplasia would decrease immensely. So we thought we would start a petition. While we do know that this may be impossible to do due to the costs associated with screening ALL newborns, we thought, ‘What’s the worst they will say? No?’. Well, at least we can say we have tried and most importantly created awareness!
If you are experiencing any worsening symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention. We have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice: https://www.stayathomemum.com.au/my-kids/babies/important-hotlines-websites/
This was written by Bec White and Jess Tassoni. SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information. All information provided is correct at time of publication.