Newborn Hip Dysplasia: Willow’s Story

Come March, my daughter will be four years old. She is a bright and active child, always moving at one speed, wide open. Seeing her now it is hard to imagine the feelings of heartbreak we endured when we were told all those years ago that she had Hip Dysplasia and would need a brace.

Hip Dysplasia Harness

            Newborn Hip Dysplasia

She was my first child. I had never heard of Hip Dysplasia before her diagnosis, and I was scared. What would this mean for her future? Would she have issues with mobility? Would she need surgery? It felt like everything was crashing down around me. I was fearful and nervous, and I did not seem to get much information from the doctor who found the issue. All that we knew then was that Hip Dysplasia is a medical condition that can develop soon after birth which is characterized by a looseness or instability of the hip joint. With Willow, her hips did not remain in place and would constantly dislocate.

Willow was delivered via C-section due to being breech. When she arrived her tiny little feet were touching her ears. We were elated, and thought nothing of the odd positioning of her legs, that was until the Doctor entered the room and upon his examination discovered hip clicks. We were told to make a follow up appointment with the pediatric orthopedic doctor upon or release from the hospital. Two weeks had passed before we were able to get into see the ortho. He was able to do a full examination and an ultrasound of my baby girl’s hips. She did in fact have Hip Dysplasia and it would require her to be in a Pavlik Harness. She was to be in the harness 24hrs a day, which meant no “baths”, difficult diaper and outfit changes, and difficulty with nursing positioning. I knew it was going to be difficult, and I knew I needed to find more information so I could feel educated on this issue that my tiny daughter was having.


Willow’s Legs When She Was Born

What Is Hip Dyplasia?

I started to Google (not always the best thing to do when it comes to a medical condition), and oddly enough the majority of information out there regarding Hip Dysplasia was pertaining to dogs. I was able to find an invaluable website though, The International Hip-Dysplasia Institute. Here is where I received a wealth of valuable information when it came to caring for my daughter while she was in her brace. They have an entire subsection of their site devoted to the Pavlik Harness which contains videos and other useful information about how to care for a child while they are in the harness.

According to, the condition is more prevalent in children who were positioned breech at the time of birth. The initial diagnosis can be found at birth by an examination of the hips, where if the Doctor notices hip clicks, like they did with Willow, you will receive a recommendation to see a specialist. At the time of your specialist appointment, your child will be given an ultrasound of their hips. An ultrasound is done because an X-ray is not able to be used until around the four month mark due to the development of the bones and cartilage in the hip area. With Willow, her Dysplasia was what they call bilateral, meaning it was present in both of her hips. She was fitted for her brace the same day as her appointment. We arrived with a squishy newborn and left with one who was difficult to cuddle in a hard and movement confining brace.

I must have cried the entire car ride home from the doctor. My poor baby girl had to suffer through this and I was powerless to help her. It was a harsh adjustment for me and a steep learning curve. Not only was I a first time mom, but my innocent child had a medical condition which I had to learn how to manage.


The Pavlik Harness

The harness would get so dirty over time. From spit up and blowouts, but I was not able to take it off to clean it so I had to use wet wash cloths to try to keep the brace itself clean. Willow was only permitted to have sponge baths, again because the brace could not be removed. I made sure to clean every little crease in all her little rolls. Once she became more mobile, I had to find a way to prevent chaffing as the brace would rub against her skin. I found that baby powder was wonderful for this! Just a little bit of it in the areas where the harness would come in contact with her skin would help tremendously. Diapering was difficult, but after a while I felt like a pro at it. Clothing remained difficult, and she mostly wore big dresses while she was in the harness and leg warmers. There eventually came a point when I was allowed to remove the brace for a few hours at a time. She was finally able to have a real bath, I could wash the brace, and I could put thin pants on her underneath the brace! It felt like we were finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

At about five months old, we went back to the specialist and they decided to give her what was called a Rhino Brace. This was worse that the Pavlik! It was hard plastic that kept her legs stuck out to the point she could not fit properly in an infant car seat anymore! We had to put her rear facing in a new convertible seat before we could even leave the hospital after that visit.


The Rhino Brace

Over the course of the next few months we had to return to the specialist multiple times for checkups, ultrasounds and brace adjustments. We finally were able to only wear the brace at nighttime and naps for a little while, and at around nine months old she was deemed free and clear! No more brace! I was elated, but nervous that she would have motor function delay, but to my surprise, not long after she was fully cleared she took her first steps and she hasn’t stopped moving since!

It is always frightening when there is something “wrong” with your child, but I learned that not everything is as terrible as it appears. Our journey with Hip Dysplasia made us more aware, made us stronger, and hopefully my journey can help someone else out there dealing with something similar.

Hip Dysplasia. Newborn Hip Dysplasia. Pavlik harness


  1. Valerie says:

    Wow, what a journey you have both been on!
    My fourth child was my first c-section because she was stuck in the left occiput position for the entire third trimester and even during my natural (non-induced) labor; I pushed for 90 minutes and she wouldn’t budge at all! 😛 Anyway, because of her position, they looked several times at her hips over the first few months to check for hip dysplasia. An asymmetrical fat roll on her right leg concerned me after reading that it can be a sign of HD but an x-ray ruled it out once and for all at four and a half months.
    Big (((hugs))) to you, mama! I read all about the harnesses and treatments while waiting to find out if Elizabeth had the condition. It’s no picnic! 🙁 I’m so glad to hear that your sweet little girl had successful treatment and that she’s doing great now!

    • thecoffeemom0617 says:

      Thank you. It was terrifying at first, but I am very glad it was caught so early. I am lucky she did not need surgery . I’m glad it all worked out for you as well, It is difficult to diagnose so young it seems.

  2. kountrymama2012 says:

    Wow,much scarier that when I had my son. They told me he had Herb’s Palsey when the doctor pulled him out he damaged the nerves in his arm. He had to see a neurologist for the first 6 months to check his reflexes. I cried like a baby when our pediatrician told me that when he said you may want to get a lawyer involved,because they should’ve done a c-section he was 9lb 3 oz and I was preclampsic when I went into labor. You’re not alone. We’re here for you!

  3. Tyane Milem says:

    My cousin had this condition, and he’s now a thriving 33 year old father of two. I had to watch for it with each of my boys after their births since it runs heavy in my family. Glad your little girl is doing well now 🙂

  4. Katie Reed says:

    Oh wow! What a journey you’ve been on! When I was born, one of my feet was twisted backwards. I had to wear a metal brace on both feet with a bar between them to sort it out. Thankfully after a few years of this, my foot was much better. I still have issues, but they’re not major t all.

  5. sahmplus says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I had thought most instances of hip dysplasia were from improperly babywearing. Very interesting info!

  6. Belle says:

    Oh wow! I’ve read about it before when I was trying to select a baby carrier when I was pregnant. I am so sorry you had to go through that but I’m happy that she’s okay now and doesn’t have any lasting issues! She’s a strong precious little girl!

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

  7. Paige Rodriguez says:

    What an incredible story! Sweet baby girl, she is one tough cookie and so are you!! So wonderful to watch the transitions unfold, her growth, her resilience….and how you have coped and grown as a mother is so admirable as well! Beautiful story, it is so important to share for others who might we wondering what the outcome could be for their little one. You are an inspiration. Xoxo

  8. lindsaysimplyseptember says:

    I’m so glad she is doing so well now! I am an occupational therapist and have seen firsthand the long recovery that can often accompany this. I’m sorry for the struggles through your journey but so glad it ended well! All the best!

  9. Georgiana says:

    Having a new baby is hard enough–I can’t imagine what you went through! You’re so right about the googling…I’ve stopped doing that for most medical issues that crop up because it does nothing but cause more worry.

  10. twoboysonepup says:

    Wow! I’m glad she has finally made it out of her brace! Great work, Willow! I’ve definitely heard of it in babies, but more-so in dogs like you had mentioned. And you’re right…googling medical conditions isn’t always best, ha!

  11. ShortsSweetMom says:

    I can’t imagine how hard this experience must have been on new parents. It sounds like you rolled with the punches and I am sure that positively contributed to your little ones healing journey. Thank you for sharing your story and encouraging others who may be facing the same thing.

  12. Rachel Timmerman says:

    Wow! Absolutely amazing! I’m so glad she doesn’t have any lasting effects! I can’t imagine what that must have been like to go through!

  13. Keren Charles says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am so happy to hear that she is doing fine. I am not a mommy yet, but your inspiring and encouraging story will help anyone going through this same situation.

  14. Mandy @ A Cupful of Carters says:

    Thanks for sharing such a personal story. Glad to hear she is doing well. I can only imagine the fear you had when you found out.

  15. Marcie says:

    Oh my! That sounds like quite an ordeal! I’ve only heard of hip dysplasia because of babywearing, but I had no idea what all in entailed. I never thought about a baby being in a brace and trying to get them in a car seat or nurse them.

  16. desperatemamas says:

    What can I say that you haven’t heard from others! What an incredible journey. Thank you so much for sharing I have goose bumps all over my body

  17. CoCo says:

    I know someone who recently had a baby with the same problem but was able to take the brace off after a few months. I could only imagine how scary the unknown is!

  18. theclutterboxblog says:

    I have never heard of this. But I can’t imagine the challenge you had to face during this time. I am glad she’s up and running now!

  19. missy35000 says:

    I can’t believe they couldn’t design something that could be cleaned better, we put a man on the moon or Pete’s sake! I also can’t imagine how hard this was for you- having a newborn is hard anyway. Thank you for sharing!

  20. Joanna Brittain says:

    Wow, I’ve never heard of this before! I couldn’t even imagine what it would have been like having this happen, and your first born. I would have been torn in all different directions with emotions. I totally think that with how hard it is to even care for an infant that they would have created something a lot better than the current designs. I am so glad that shared your story to get the info out there for others who may be Googling the same thing that your daughter had to go through. So wonderful to hear that she is able to run around and play without anymore braces!!

  21. Jeanine Macintosh says:

    A friend of mines little girl was born with her legs like that, 17 years ago now! I had never seen a baby born with their legs like that until her, it was something. I am so glad Willow is doing great!

  22. Stephanie Lee says:

    This was so interesting to read! I’ve heard about hip dysplasia but didn’t really know the details. Your sweet little girl looks like a champ in the braces! Way to go mama for being so supportive!

  23. momentousmom says:

    Thank you for this information. I did not know a lot about hip dysplasia. It seems like you two make a great team. I know it can be hard to have a child with challenges but you did a great job. Good job mommy! Now good luck keeping up with her 🙂

  24. Robin Rue says:

    I am so happy to read that she is like a typical child now. Your story has been an eye opener to me for what it would be like!

  25. everydaythoughtsbybrittany says:

    I can’t imagine the anguish you went through as Willow was diagnosed and with all the brace changes. Thank you for sharing your story and providing such hope to other parents who are experiencing a similar diagnosis.

  26. Heather says:

    What an emotional journey! I’m glad that she is doing so well now! I think that any time we have new babies we only want the best, and it is such a stressful time without added complications.

  27. Lydia says:

    I’m so glad to hear she’s doing better! I know of a blogger who’s daughter has hip dysplasia when she was born, it’s very interesting (and sad!) of hearing the monthly updates.

  28. Kimberly says:

    My son was born sunny side up and my niece was born breech. I know that having the support system you need is crucial when it affects them long term. I think its great that you are sharing your story for other Moms.

  29. Kiwi says:

    Aw this broke my heart a little. You are a good mom and stronger because of it. I would love to see an update on your little ones legs and hopefully life is a lot better for her.

  30. savagesevenblog says:

    I have heard of this condition but had never seen it before like this. It is good you documented things because this can be very helpful to someone who has a baby who may have the same condition. I am glad she is healthy and doing well!

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