Is it my fault my son had dislocated hips? - Female Fitness Coaching

Is it my fault my son had dislocated hips?

More than one person has told me that my little boy being born with bilateral hip dysplasia or dislocated hips was my fault.

Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) as it is known, or dislocated hips, is a condition where the ‘ball and socket’ joint of the hips doesn’t form properly in babies and young children.

It’s sometimes known as congenital dislocated hips or hip dysplasia. The hip joint attaches the thigh bone (femur) to the pelvis. The top of the femur (femoral head) is rounded like a ball and sits inside the cup-shaped hip socket. In DDH, the socket of the hip is too shallow and the femoral head isn’t held tightly in place, so the hip joint is loose. In severe cases, the femur can come out of the socket (dislocate). DDH may affect one or both hips but is more common in the left hip. It’s also more common in girls and firstborn children. About 1 or 2 in every 1,000 babies have DDH that needs treating.

Without treatment, DDH may lead to problems later in life, including:

  • Developing a limp
  • Hip pain– especially during the teenage years
  • Painful and stiff joints (osteoarthritis)

With early diagnosis and treatment, most children are able to develop normally and have a full range of movement in their hip.

In my case it was noted straight away (within hours) after birth that Ronnie had bilateral dislocated hips; he was referred by the paediatrician who saw him at his discharge appointment before we were allowed to leave the hospital and told to see the consultant at The Children’s Hospital within the week.

When he was 9 days old we took him to see the consultant and out he came with a premature babies harness on!

Ronnie just a few days after his harness was put on!

I sobbed. It broke my heart. Why did my newborn bundle of perfectness have to endure this?

What had I done wrong?

Over the next few weeks we got used to the clothes that he had been bought no longer fitting him, the Moses basket no longer fitting and barely fitting in his pram or his car seat without a towel under him to lift him up.

Ronnie’s sleep suit compared to a ‘normal’ sleep suit!

He could no longer lie on his tummy and he couldn’t have baths. I fought to continue to breast feed with our new baby starfish! We were back and forth to the hospital for appointments. Over the weeks he had wee stained harnesses which were exchanged for bigger harnesses. We quickly learnt, when changing his nappy, to put a bag over his foot and we got really skilled at applying cream and protective padding around the straps of the harness that would rub him until he was sore.

We fought nappy rash that was so bad his bottom was raw and angry. But we did it and many mums have to endure far worse!

The thing we kept having to tell ourselves was that he was totally unaware and non the wiser! He remained the same happy little boy! Only we hold the memories.

Ronnie in his special starfish shaped sleep suits!

Now 2 years later we are just waiting for our (hopefully) final appointment for an X-ray in the hope that his (mainly) left hip socket has now developed enough so he can be discharged from the care of the Children’s Hospital. Failing that it’s an operation and a Spica splint next.

But was it my fault though? What had I done wrong? Should or could I have done anything differently?

My (ex) GP told me it was down to poor nutrition on my behalf?

Really? With absolutely no grounds to make such a comment as he had no idea what my nutrition was/is like! I follow a balanced and varied diet, low in refined sugar (during pregnancy almost no refined sugar!) and contains very few/virtually no processed foods, minimal alcohol (and during pregnancy no alcohol at all). I prepare from scratch with fresh ingredients virtually every meal. My BMI is within the ‘healthy’ range. Knowing this, could Ronnie’s dislocated hips be due to my nutrition? Surely not?!

A trainer told me his dislocated hips occured because I had a small bump

According to them this was because my abdominal muscles were TOO strong which didn’t allow enough room for the baby to develop. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate I did have a small bump, the amniotic fluid levels were low (not dangerously so!) and yes I did have a ‘six-pack’ that was visible way into the pregnancy but that wasn’t due to me doing inappropriate abdominal exercises like crunches or planks etc.

My small bump at 39weeks + 2days!

Should I have done more breathing exercises to ‘relax’ my abdominals? Maybe? Or maybe it was just how it was going to be.

I certainly tried throughout the later weeks of the pregnancy everything I could to turn him….exercises, acupuncture, ECV turns. Nothing worked. Happy and perfectly comfortable, tucked (bum-down) in my pelvis, and that was how he was staying right up until the day he was dragged out!!!

Would I do anything differently if I was to have any more children? Yes, I would ensure I did more work from a very early stage of the pregnancy on breathing techniques to ‘relax’ my abdominals muscles. 

Mums have breach babies. Some have small bumps. Women have differing amounts of amniotic fluid. These are all normal variables.

I no longer blame myself for Ronnie’s dislocated hips. I no longer torture myself with ‘what-ifs’. He is healthy and perfect in every other way and I’m happy with that!

Steps is a charity who’s website we found useful, giving more information on this subject.

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Claire Ward - 6th July 2017

I was born with this condition too – I had special nappies for my starfish legs and casts to try and make sure I would develop normally (my mum still has my little casts!!). You can tell that something is not quite normal by the way I walk but I am in no pain and can do everything I want with no issue at all. Ronnie will be just fine and we are obviously just special!! 1 in 1000 special apparently!

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