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Welcome to our blog! We are a husband & wife photography team based in Madison, Wisconsin who document weddings & anniversaries for joyful couples who believe in marriage. This blog is a journal about real love stories, marriage & our own adventures along the way. We are so glad you're here β€” please stay awhile!




Hip Dysplasia | Growing with the Pavlik Harness.

May 5, 2021

It seems appropriate to be writing this post this morning as I just dropped Indie off for her first day of daycare! Today is a big moment of transition β€” our little love is getting older and I am officially back to work! I am both sad and relieved, yet again finding myself in a moment of “both/and.”

Hip Dysplasia Diagnosis

After Indie was born, they performed a hip test as part of the wellness exam they do on all babies before being cleared to leave the hospital and go home. The pediatrician doing the exam noticed some clicking in one of Indie’s hips and referred her to an orthopedic specialist. Hip dysplasia was briefly discussed but really, nothing more than that. After seeing our own pediatrician two days later for the routine checkup, it was decided to schedule an ultrasound at six weeks to confirm whether or not Indie did indeed have hip dysplasia. During the ultrasound, they discovered that Indie had hip dysplasia not just in one hip but in both! We had another appointment just a day or two later where we got her in the Pavlik Harness that she began wearing 24/7.

For those unfamiliar with hip dysplasia, it essentially means the hips did not develop properly and need to be corrected. It is most common in females, breech babies, and those with a family history of hip abnormalities. When babies are still super little, their bones are actually cartilage and able to be manipulated a bit! The Pavlik Harness holds the hips in the ideal position as baby continues to grow and develop. It is an exceptionally effective tool and an early diagnosis is even better to quickly rectify the issue.


I wanted to write a blog post to share more of our story, especially for parents who also receive a hip dysplasia diagnosis for their baby(ies). For me, it felt very overwhelming at first and I personally found comfort in reading other people’s stories and talking with parents in my own life who had already walked through what we were about to. I hope this post does the same for them/you : )

The Emotional Adjustment

Finding out Indie had hip dysplasia felt really scary. I didn’t know anything about it and I remember crying a lot. It sounds dramatic but due to my initial lack of knowledge, my greatest fear at the time was that she would never be able to walk. The more I learned, the better I felt but I do just want to acknowledge that any feelings you may have upon receiving (any type of) diagnosis are valid. I am aware that we are extremely fortunate they caught this early and also that many people have it so much worse than us but also, that it is important to acknowledge and process whatever you are feeling given your specific situation. It is okay (and NORMAL!) to feel sad, scared, angry, etc.

I will preface this next paragraph by asking you to remember what I just shared above. While I very much realize that in the scheme of life, these four things are minor, they felt really “big” for me at the time and I’m sharing them in vulnerability to hopefully help other parents walking through a similar situation.

The four hardest adjustments for me initially were no skin-to-skin, diaper changes, the inability to wear 99% of the clothes we had for her, and breastfeeding. Because of having to wear the brace 24/7, I was no longer able to do skin-to-skin with Indie. This was one of my favorite things to do with her and I really grieved losing it. Diaper changes and breastfeeding became more challenging and I remember thinking, “I just wish it didn’t have to be this way.” Lastly, there was one night where I cried as I packed away all the clothes we had for her (many of them gifts with tags still on!) that she would not be able to wear due to the harness.

For all of these things, it was important for my own mental health to really sit with and allow myself to feel whatever came up. As I processed, I was ultimately able to land in a place of gratitude (with negative feelings still sprinkled in every now and then!). Truthfully, the transition was much harder for us than it was for Indie. She didn’t really seem to notice(?!) and our experience has been that it doesn’t affect her quality of life in the slightest.

Practically Adjusting

Being in the Pavlik Harness 24/7 is definitely an adjustment for the parents! You have to do things differently and I hope this concluding section of the post helps as I share what worked for us/Indie in those adjustments.

  1. SLEEP (Swaddle & Sleepsack)

We were most concerned about sleep because Indie was sleeping great and we didn’t want to disrupt that! She was used to being swaddled so we used a combination of this arm swaddle and this sleepsack (both approved by her hip doctor) to mimic the sleeping environment she was already used to. Once we knew she would be getting the harness, I ordered these using Amazon Prime to make sure we had them for the first night at home.



Indie has been living in bodysuits and leg warmers or high socks. I got a bunch from some local second hand stores for super cheap! This combo makes diaper changes the easiest in my opinion.

Bibs have been crucial for us to help protect the brace from excessive spit up.

If it’s cooler weather, we add a little zip-up sweatshirt over the harness or wrap her in a blanket! These booties (in a size up to fit the harness!) work great as well.

Lastly, for a dressier outfit, I would put a little camisole bodysuit under the brace and then have her wear a dress that could just slip over the top.



You CAN still breastfeed with the harness! You may just need to adjust positions to make sure baby is able to retain their ideal ‘open hip’ posture as much as possible. I love using the Brest Friend Nursing Pillow because it is super sturdy with a large surface area for her to lay on (it can fit a small dog too, HA!). Cradle position has been our most successful by far but I’ll also have her straddle my leg and lay against me in an upright position too.



To put it bluntly, just accept right away that the harness is going to get DIRTY. They literally give you one (that you can’t actually wash because it takes too long to air dry when they need to be in it all the time) and it’s WHITE so … yeah. In the beginning I thought maybe I would be able to keep it super clean and white but in my opinion, it’s a lost cause that is not worth your time and/or stress! They WILL get spit up and poop on it. We spot clean using a combo of Branch Basics All-Purpose Spray and Oxygen Boost, and it has gotten any major stains out! I also spray it with this Tubby Todd Baby Fresh Spray to help with odor.


The International Hip Dysplasia Institute website has been a “one-stop shop” for me, especially in the beginning as I was researching hip dysplasia. The amount of information out there can be a bit overwhelming and this website is completley reliable with TONS of information … like all the information you will need upon receiving a diagnosis. I especially loved and used the “hip healthy products” section of the site.

We actually just found out yesterday that after six weeks of continuous wear, Indie now gets to go down to being in the harness at night and during naps. It is working, her hips are improving, and we are SO thankful. The transition at first can be really difficult but it WILL get easier β€” on all levels.

After we initially shared about Indie’s hip dysplasia on social media, I had several people reach out to me sharing their own stories of undiagnosed hip dysplasia as a baby and how they are now dealing with the repercussions as an adult. I can’t help but be wildly grateful for how medicine has advanced and that hopefully our girl will never have to deal with what many are because of it.


  1. Carolina says:

    Just to let you know that you achieved your purpose of make parents going through the same process find comfort with your story.
    My 1 month old daughter is been on a pablum harness for two weeks now and it’s been so difficult for me emotionally.
    Reading your story I felt understood. I know is a bless to be diagnosed so early but as you said at the same time is difficult not to feel overwhelmed.


    • Maison Engel says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this, Carolina! I am sending you the very biggest hug. There are so many (often conflicting!) emotions and you are certainly not alone <3 Sending healing prayers and vibes for your beautiful daughter!! So much love, mama <3

  2. Patty says:

    Thank you for sharing this. My baby got his harness few days ago and its been challenging to adapt to so many changes in the dynamics specially breastfeeding. I just have a question about the cradle position, dont her get stiff neck because she had to turn her heard to your breast everytime? I think that is the most comfortable position too, but wondering if it could affect him. Thank you πŸ™‚

    • Maison Engel says:

      Hi Patty! Thanks so much for sending this message and I hope my post was helpful <3 It is so overwhelming in the beginning but I promise it gets easier. Your babe is SO lucky to have a mama who cares so much!!! I personally did not find that cradle position gave a stiff neck or that my daughter had an problems at all feeding this way! I just made sure to offer both sides every feeding πŸ™‚ I hope this helps and please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any other question. Sending you a GIGANTIC hug!

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