Beautiful 4 month old baby lying in a hospital bed wearing a hip spica cast playing with her toys | Hip Dysplasia - Clair de Lune UK

Seeing your baby in a hip spica cast can be a challenging and overwhelming experience for any parent. The cast is used to immobilize the hips and legs, typically after a hip-related injury or surgery. While it may feel daunting, understanding how to care for your baby during this time can make a significant difference in their comfort and well-being. In this guide, we've discussed at length with one of our very own Clair de Lune mums who's daughter was first in a pavlik harness and following that a spica cast to address some of the common concerns and questions you may have when your baby is in a hip spica cast.

  1. Getting familiar with the cast: Take the time to familiarise yourself with the hip spica cast. Understand its purpose and how it supports your baby's healing process. Your surgeon will explain the specific details of your baby's cast and answer any questions you may have.  Before you leave the hospital you will have some time with a physio to go over how to properly lift your child, to fit them correctly in a car seat and pushchair/pram.

  2. Daily care routine: Learn how to care for your baby's cast. Follow the instructions given by your healthcare provider regarding bathing, nappy changes, and managing any skin irritations. Use gentle, baby-friendly products and avoid applying pressure or rough movements around the cast.  In terms of bathings, you'll only be able to sponge down your child and you'll need to ensure that the cast stays dry.  Our Clair de Lune mum recommends keeping a hair dryer on hand, and metanium nappy rash cream.

  3. Promoting comfort and pain management: Your baby's comfort is crucial. Ask your healthcare provider about suitable pain management techniques. They may recommend over-the-counter pain relief medications or provide other strategies to help alleviate discomfort. Pay attention to your baby's cues and provide soothing measures as needed.

  4. Feeding and sleeping arrangements: Adapting feeding and sleeping routines is essential. Positioning your baby for feeding may require creativity. Explore different techniques like using specialized pillows or propping up the cast with cushions to find a comfortable and safe position. Similarly, adapt sleeping arrangements to ensure your baby is safe and secure while maintaining good spinal alignment, the physio will explain how to do this after your child's surgery and you'll need to change their position at least every 2 hours to prevent bedsores.  Our Clair de Lune mum recommends lots of rolled up blankets or towels.

    Tummy Time Hip Spica Cast

  5. Understanding mobility limitations: Your baby's mobility will be restricted in the hip spica cast, but they can still engage in some activities such as tummy time, play mats etc. Consult with your healthcare provider about what movements are safe and appropriate for your baby. They may recommend exercises or ways to encourage upper body strength and mobility.

  6. Duration of the cast: The length of time your baby will need to wear the hip spica cast varies depending on their condition. Follow the guidance of your healthcare provider and attend regular check-ups to monitor the progress of your baby's healing. They will assess when it is safe to remove the cast.  Normally, it's put on for 6 weeks at which point the cast is removed, the surgeon performs an x-ray and then it's replaced for another 6-8 weeks.

  7. Developmental milestones: It's natural to be concerned about potential developmental delays. Your healthcare provider can provide insight into what milestones your baby may achieve while in the cast. They can also offer guidance on activities and exercises to promote their development during this time.

  8. Emotional support: Being in a hip spica cast can be challenging for your baby, both physically and emotionally. Offer plenty of love, comfort, and reassurance. Engage in activities that stimulate their mind and provide opportunities for interaction. Seek support from family, friends, or local support groups to help you navigate this journey.  From experience there are a number of support groups on Facebook where you can chat to other parents who have either been through, or are going through the same thing with their child/baby.

  9. Maintaining the cast and troubleshooting: Proper cast maintenance is crucial for your baby's well-being. Follow the instructions provided by your healthcare provider to keep the cast clean and dry. Watch out for any signs of skin irritation or foul odors. If you notice any problems or have concerns, reach out to your healthcare provider for guidance.  Our Clair de Lune mummy recommends asking for as much of the waterproof tape and bandages to maintain the nappy area of the cast clean and dry before you leave the hospital as it's difficult to get hold of on prescription.  You can get detailed step-by-step instructions on how to change the dressings on the hipdysplasia.org website.

Caring for a baby in a hip spica cast requires patience, understanding, and support. By educating yourself about the cast, following the care instructions, and seeking guidance from healthcare professionals, you can ensure your baby's comfort and well-being during this challenging time. Remember, you're not alone, and there are resources available to help you throughout the healing process.

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