Hello there! First off, congratulations on your little bundle! How exciting it is to be bringing a little one into this big, big world!
So, you just learned your child will be born with clubfeet? Will they have bilateral clubfeet (meaning both) or unilateral (just one)? I have had two sons born with clubfeet, one with bilateral and the other with unilateral.
I’d love to tell you what our experience has been, so you have a rough idea of what to expect. Our son’s were treated using the Ponsetti method.
When I got the news with my first son, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. At the time, I didn’t know anyone who actually had clubfeet. My son was also being watched and tested for a slew of other conditions, so, we had many things to learn about.
I found out right after the 20 week anatomy scan. The rest of the pregnancy went along well. There was no additional testing done.
As soon as I gave birth, the nurses and doctor immediately noticed the club feet. They treated him the same way they do all babies, with love and compassion. The next morning, the pediatric orthopedic surgeon came into our room and applied the first casts.
After we were discharged from the hospital, we had to go to his medical office every 7 – 10 days to have the casts changed. I will be honest, those appointments can be tough, so you will want to be prepared. I have written a post here specifically about what to expect and how to prepare for that appointment. We always made sure we had a binky and sugar water to help ease the pain and give him something to focus on. I nursed one of my sons, and I didn’t have any trouble with nipple confusion (I know this is a concern).
Once my boys were about 10 – 11 weeks old, they had the Achilles Tenotomy done. It is a quick surgery where the Achilles tendon is lengthened and the feet are re-casted. We were in and out of the hospital in half a day.
After the surgery, my sons wore the casts another 10 – 12 days.
At that point, it was time to move to the boots/brace phase. You will probably work with an orthotist or prothesist who will measure your child’s feet and get the boots and brace ordered.
We went back to the surgeon, who took the casts off and showed us how to properly put the boots on and how to slide them into the braces. I am going to be totally frank, the first few days of bracing is rough. I imagine it must be somewhat painful or at least really irritating, as neither of my boys liked it.
After a few days (probably 3-4) they will likely calm down and get used to it.
For the first few months (it will totally depend on your child) they will wear the boots and brace all day. After that, they will need to wear it for 12 hours at night. They will wear the brace at night for a few years, my older son wore his until age 4 (again, depends on the child).
After the initial casting, the doctor visits decreased greatly. Once my older son got into the boots/brace stage, we had a follow up every 3 months, and then every 6 months and finally once a year.
My older son is now 5 years old and you would never know he was born with bilateral clubfeet!
My younger son is now 13 months old. We are not having as smooth an experience this time. He has not tolerated the boots/brace stage at all and we are currently waiting to see the doctor to figure out what to do.
When I say not tolerated I mean, he never “got used to it and calmed down”. He screamed, all night, until we took the boots and brace off. We gave him a break for a week or so and would try again. It never got better.
The great news is he is 13 months old and is walking, so, now we just have to figure out what the next step is.
I share this with you so you know that it may not go perfectly. I will keep you updated on our journey, as we go through it!
I will leave you with this, having a baby born with clubfeet can be scary at first. Try to educate yourself on what to expect, and find a doctor/specialist to help you through the process! It is a time consuming journey at the beginning, but after a while it will become second nature and you will be a pro!