On April 11, 2016, I delivered my first child, a baby girl, named Claire. When I was admitted to the hospital, my doctor discovered that my daughter was breech presentation. The decision to pursue a caesarean section was made.
Immediately post-op everything was a blur. I was exhausted and barely able to stay awake. The next morning, the pediatrician came to visit and on his examination, he determined her left hip had a “click” which was concerning for hip dysplasia.
As a new parent, I was nervous to hear that my otherwise, healthy, full-term baby might have a problem with her hip development. As a nurse practitioner, my mind immediately thought about possible long-term complications (delayed or impaired ability to walk, etc.) However, since I work in critical care, I tried to put the information into perspective. I told myself, I just had a healthy baby and a successful surgery and that I needed to worry less and trust more. The pediatrician was wonderful! He referred us to the pediatric orthopedist. The orthopedist recommended a Pavlik harness, a type of fabric stabilizing device, to help keep the hip in the correct position and allow the joint to further develop. I did not realize that an infant’s hips are rather malleable and so by diagnosing Claire’s hip dysplasia early, the harness could reposition her hip and allow for healing over the course of several weeks. She wore the harness for about 12 weeks and had some follow-up ultrasounds and then x-rays to confirm resolution.
At the time, the harness made taking care of a newborn a little more complicated, especially with diaper changes because there were a lot of straps to re-secure. Now, my daughter is 21 months, and I barely remember the Pavlik harness. She is not only walking but running with no pain and no physical limitations.
My gratitude for her pediatrician who astutely and promptly diagnosed her hip dysplasia and for the expertise of her pediatric orthopedist will endure for the rest of my life. They took wonderful care of my daughter! Since Claire’s experience, I had another friend whose daughter was breech and had hip dysplasia. It was so nice to be able to share my experience and encourage her and her husband as they went through a very similar situation. My hope is this post will also encourage you! Please share your experience with family, friends, neighbors, etc. to help raise awareness of a problem, that if detected early, can be be successfully treated as if it never existed in the first place.