Breech Birth: Treating Hip Dysplasia

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After naturally delivering my surprise breech baby I was so thankful to know she was safe and well. I did not expect to be treating hip dysplasia. She had her newborn checks in the hospital and she was absolutely fine. As a precaution, she went to a hip scan at 6 weeks. When we had the scan we found out she had this condition. I hadn’t heard of this before and hadn’t expected there to be anything wrong as she had only presented as breech for a few hours. I then searched for the best ways to treat hip dysplasia and have made a list of all the tips I used in this post.

What is Hip Dysplasia?

It is when the hip joint is looser than it should be because the ball does not fully fit into the socket of the hip joint. This condition is more common than I realised and it varies greatly in severity as shown on the hip dysplasia website.  

Why do Breech Babies have Hip Problems?

Breech babies positioning in the womb can put pressure on their hips which leads to hip dysplasia. It can also be caused by their position when they are being delivered. My daughter only presented as breech for a few hours but still developed loose hips. When I was researching hip dysplasia I also found out that girls and firstborn children are more likely to have it.

How do they Diagnose Hip Dysplasia?

One of the first signs of this condition can be hearing a clicking sound or a pop when your baby moves their hips. My daughter had no sign this so we weren’t aware she had this condition until she had her 6-week hip scan. This ultrasound scan is given to all breech babies as a precaution to check for hip dysplasia.

 It is a quick and simple procedure. You remove the nappy and clothing from the bottom half of your baby and lay them down on their side. The sonographer will then place the device over the hip joint and record the hip angle on the computer. Your baby will need to lie still so it is useful to have something to show them as a distraction. They will then turn them over and repeat this on the other hip joint. You will then see the consultant to discuss the results. After 6 months your baby will begin to have x-rays instead of an ultrasound, but I was able to stay with her and hold her still while she had this.

Is this Condition Painful?

This condition is not painful as an infant or child but if it is left untreated it can lead to problems in adult life. My daughter was fine with it and still reached all of her milestones.

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How do you treat Hip Dysplasia?

This condition is successfully treated in most cases and often heals itself without medical intervention. However there are things you can do to help your baby to heal and I have shared below everything we were advised to do and that worked for us. If your baby doesn’t heal on their own the next step is to wear a harness. When my daughter’s condition worsened I researched this and found it wasn’t as scary as it sounded. It is also a very successful treatment. There are further options if needed such as braces, a spica cast, and surgery.

Treating Hip Dysplasia at Home

We were given excellent medical advice from the consultant, sonographer, midwife and health visitor. Following all this advice we were able to help to treat my baby’s hip dysplasia at home so she didn’t need any further intervention. The main thing we needed to do was to keep her in the frog position as often as possible – with the legs out to the sides and knees bent higher than the hips.

Tips for treating Hip Dysplasia

  • Wearing double nappies – layer two disposable nappies, put your baby’s normal size on first to prevent leaks then place the next size up over the top. This makes it bulkier and pushes the legs outwards.
  • Wearing triple nappies – when my daughter’s condition worsened we tried triple nappies to push her legs outwards. However this needn’t be expensive as you can reuse the outer nappies.
  • Place your baby lying flat on their back as often as possible – we had some trouble with this as my daughter suffered from severe reflux. These are the tips we used to help with this.
  • Carry your baby in a baby carrier that is suitable – make sure it places them in the frog position, then you can wear your baby while they are sleeping. I asked if I could use this carrier and was told it was fine.
  • Carry your baby on your hip or across your front as this pushes their legs into the correct position
  • Be careful of the car seat as this can place them in the wrong position with their legs pushed straight rather than the frog position. The sonographer told us my daughter was in the perfect position in her Maxi-Cosi car seat.  
  • Avoid putting your baby in tights, leggings or tight trousers that doesn’t allow their legs to easily move outwards.

If your baby was breech there is a chance they may have hip dysplasia. It is more common than you might think and it can usually be treated successfully. I followed all of the advice from the list above and my daughter’s condition improved. She had a check-up at 1 year old and her hips were within the normal range. She is going for one final check-up when she is 18 months old to make sure she is walking and running without a problem.

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