Hip health is a hot topic for new parents. I am often asked about the correct position for baby’s hips in car seats and carriers. As a new parent you are likely feeling bombarded information especially when it comes to products. It’s often overwhelming to make a decision about what’s best for your baby.

Hip health in a baby is important because this simple knowledge can help you help your baby from developing long term issues like pain as an athlete or arthritis later on in their life. The medical community uses a term called hip dysplasia when describing the health of your baby’s hips. You may have heard this term from your doctor or midwife as your baby will be screened at birth and/or during their newborn check-ups for hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a medical term to describe looseness or instability in the hip joint.

If you take a look at the anatomy, the hip joint is made up of a “ball and socket” joint. The “ball” being the head of the femur, (the top of the bone in the thigh) and the “socket” being the acetabulum (a cup like structure in the pelvis). This joint is supported or surrounded by a capsule and ligaments which allow for movement while providing support. With hip dysplasia the amount of looseness can vary from just a small amount of instability to a dislocation, where the ball is no longer sitting in the socket of the pelvis.
Here is a visual from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.

During development in the womb your baby is tucked up in a position that supports the growth of the hip joint to help form a nice congruent surface between the ball and the socket. If your baby has already been born you may have notice the natural position of their hips is still in this flexed tucked position. When you pick them up you probably note that their legs/hips stay curled up. It takes several months for the hips to actually stretch out. The cartilage that surrounds the ball and socket is still very soft and flexible, much like the cartilage on your ear. If the joint is forced into straightening too early it can potentially damage the supporting structures around the joint which can lead to slipping or instability. So when choosing a carrier or a car seat for your baby it is very important to keep their hip position in mind.

The International Hip Dysplasia Institute has a great page on this topic with fantastic visuals to help you. This following link will give you examples of not recommended vs. better positions for car seats, carriers (harnesses and slings). They will give you an idea of how to help keep your baby’s hips in a good position to help support healthy hip development. http://www.hipdysplasia.org/developmental-dysplasia-of-the-hip/prevention/baby-carriers-seats-and-other-equipment/

If you have any questions about healthy hip positions for your baby ask your primary health care provider for more information!

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It’s hard to think about after birth when you are in the midst of pregnancy but what a critical topic to discuss! Moms are often taken back when I ask them if they have thought about their postpartum needs and plan for support. It’s the norm that mommies to be are so focused or even consumed with everything leading up to and including the birth of their babies. The list is extensive with of multiple appointments to get to, things to buy, books to read and classes to attend that sometimes it doesn’t hit them until they are home with their newborn that they haven’t prepared themselves for that part. Of course to some degree it’s challenging to foresee what you might need in those first few months before you actually get there but it’s such an important thing to think about.

A common story I hear from new moms is the feeling of “let-go” once all of the I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed when leaving the hospital or after birth. They likely had some support in with the first feds, first baths, first strap into the car seat, but then it’s just them, responsible for this new beautiful life. Overwhelmed is an understatement in most cases! There is also a certain degree of assumed confidence that you are a mom now and you should just know what to do for your baby… but the reality is that often times that confidence is not there at the very start. New moms have shared this time and time again. Sometimes even, it’s their 2nd or 3rd baby and they still may feel this way. Of course it will come with time, and for some it just seems natural but for those of us who may not have friends with newborns or if their families live far away you can start to feel very isolated and alone.

In trying to help this transition for moms in this critical time it has lead me to search for what other support is out there? One area that I have discovered is what’s called a postpartum doula. Not too long ago I stumbled across this term which sparked my curiosity. As I was well aware of a birth doula, I wasn’t aware that there were doulas out there that focus on the postpartum time. I started mentioning it to expectant moms and it became very apparent that a lot of women were not aware of this service either.

With some more research and the realization of the importance of this kind of support I was drawn to pursue a post-partum doula workshop with DONA International. After attending the course it became very clear to me that everyone should know about this service and I would like to share with you what I have learned!

What is a doula?

The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period, as defined by DONA international.

DONA international is an international, non-profit organization of doulas that strives to have every doula trained / educated to provide the highest quality / standards for birth and/or postpartum support to birthing women and their families. They promote continuing education for doulas and provide a strong communication link among doulas and between doulas, families and the medical birthing community. DONA International doulas and the families they serve are in more than 20 countries.

What is a POSTPARTUM doula?

The role of a post-partum doula can look different for different families but the scope of a postpartum doula as per DONA International is one who cares for mom and her family in their home in the first few weeks following birth. They provide non-medical support and companionship, assists with newborn care and sibling adjustment, meal preparation and household organization. The doula offers evidence-based information on infant feeding; emotional and physical recovery from childbirth and other issues related to the postpartum period and can make referrals if necessary.

They are basically there to fill in the gaps for you as you and your family adjust to your new addition. Research shows that postpartum doula support can ease the transition that comes with the addition of a baby to a family, improve parental satisfaction and reduce the risk of mood disorders.

When I explain this to a mom to be or a mom with a newborn the immediate response is “sign me up”. At the end of the day a postpartum doula that does a good job will basically work herself out of a job. The idea is to provide support during this transition period but eventually leave the moms and families ensuring that they are confident and comfortable with their new roles. Some postpartum doulas may come into a home just a few times for a few hours in the first couple of weeks. Others may stay for months depending on the needs of the mothers and families.

For some more information and frequently asked questions regarding postpartum doulas check out the following link. http://www.dona.org/mothers/faqs_postpartum.php

To search a certified postpartum doula in your area you can visit the DONA website at “find a doula” http://www.dona.org/search/results.php?region=CAN+-+AB&doulas=both&x=17&y=6

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Colic and Chiropractic

October 12, 2012

This is a really hot topic of conversation for parents and for good reason! Colic is one of those conditions that is not well understood, it has been studied and many clinical recommendations are made to parents to try and help them deal better with it. As more and more families are becoming aware of [...]

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Low Back Pain and Pregnancy

July 31, 2012

As your baby grows and your belly expands your center of gravity shifts forward. As a result the pelvis tilts forwards and the natural curve in the low back increases. So why is the lower back such a common source of pain during pregnancy? The answer is the connection to the uterus. The sacrum (tailbone) [...]

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Scar tissue – why it forms and what to do about it

July 31, 2012

To understand scar tissue you must ask yourself…why does it form? Scar tissue formation is a result of soft tissue injuries (ie muscles, tendons). For the purposes of this discussion we will take a look at how soft tissue injury occurs, what the body’s response is and how to treat it. “The injury” – soft [...]

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Pain prevention at home

July 31, 2012

I’m often asked “what can I do to prevent this pain from coming back”? There’s one population of patients that I get this question often, and that’s with pregnant/postpartum women. They often suffer from recurrent episodes of low back pain. Of course as I spoke about one of my previous blogs, there is a good [...]

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Muscle or Joint?

July 24, 2012

Is the problem the muscle or the joint? I find myself answering this question quite often when a patient comes into the office with pain after a weekend of activities like gardening, house work or recreational sports. The answer in majority of cases is BOTH! This question reminds me of that song that we all [...]

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