After the birth of her daughter Lucy, Caroline Jones discovered little Lucy was born with Hip Dysplasia. Caroline looked for the ‘silver lining’ in what was a very difficult and emotional time. The inspirational mum-of-two shares her story with StyleNest.
Nine months later, Caroline launched her company Silver Lining, where she designed a range of baby clothes suitable to work with a Pavlik Harness for babies born with Hip Dysplasia.
StyleNest talk to founder and mum of two to discover more about her journey and top tips on how to juggle being a working mum of two.
You started Silver Lining after you saw a gap in the market to offer a clothing solution for babies being treated with a Pavlik Harness. Tell us a little about that.
I had never heard of such a thing as a ‘Pavlik Harness’ until my second daughter, Lucy was born breech. I was told at the routine hip examination they give all newborns that due to her breech position, she would need an ultrasound to check her hips. Unfortunately she was diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia.
The Pavlik Harness is a little harness specially designed to gently position a baby’s hips so they are aligned in the joint, and to keep the hip joint secure. It essentially holds the legs out like a little frog, making it almost impossible to dress the baby in normal clothes. I spent so much time cutting up clothes or re-sewing and rolling things up. I was really sad putting away all the lovely baby outfits I had for Lucy and felt really depressed about this ugly harness.
For our readers who aren’t clued up on hip dysplasia, can you please tell us a little of what it means and what it is about?
In simple terms Hip Dysplasia or developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) means that the bones of the hip joint are not aligned correctly. It affects thousands of children each year.
The exact causes of DDH are unknown, but there are various risk factors, including a family history of the condition, but also different situations that can put pressure on babies’ hips as they are developing. These include breech presentation, like my daughter Lucy, reduced amount of fluid in the womb, babies over 4kg at birth and first-born babies – especially girls.
Approximately 1 out of every 20 full-term babies have some hip instability and 2-3 out of every 1,000 infants will require treatment. However, in spite of the frequency of DDH in babies, the awareness of this condition is poor.
It is a condition that can be easily missed and therefore it’s important for mums to keep an eye out for symptoms. Early detection and treatment of DDH is important, because if the condition is discovered much later in a baby’s life, it may result in complex surgery.
It must have been a very hard time for you and your family. What advice would you give new parents going through the same journey?
It was definitely a big shock – a sad and worrying time. My advice to new parents would be to remember that Hip Dysplasia is very common and completely treatable. The earlier a baby is diagnosed the more successful and quick non-surgical treatment is.
I think the more important advice I can give all new parents is to be very careful how they swaddle their babies. It is popular these days to tightly swaddle babies with their legs by their sides but this is absolutely the worst position for a baby’s developing hips and can cause Hip Dysplasia. Babies legs should be free to bend up and out at the hips (in a natural frog position). There has been a lot of global press about this recently, which is great, and more information about safe swaddling can be found at www.hipdysplasia.org.
You are based in Australia, and the great news is you ship internationally. How important is it for you to reach mums globally and help increase awareness?
Given the statistics I felt there were mums everywhere in the same boat as me, because the Pavlik Harness is used globally. It is important for me to help mums with my product during a frustrating time but also to increase awareness of the condition as a whole, and help potential cases from being missed, which is unfortunately very common. The frustrating thing for me was that I was guilty of using a tight swaddle suit for the first six weeks with Lucy before her diagnosis. The Orthopaedic Consultant told me in no uncertain terms that I would have contributed to her condition, but I had absolutely no idea that there were potential dangers with tight swaddling.
You have designed an adorable collection, can you tell our readers a little bit about the design process?
Thank you. I can tell you it was certainly a massive learning curve as I have spent my entire working career in the drinks industry. Apart from my personal love of shopping and fashion, the clothing/manufacture industry was completely new to me. The process evolved as I struggled to dress my daughter. I started to understand how the harness worked and how a garment would need to fit. I searched for a local pattern maker and with Lucy as my muse we spent many meetings measuring and re-measuring until we had a complete set of patterns. The search for fabric was a long process as I was very particular about the quality I wanted. I then found a local hand screen-printer who printed my fabric with a bespoke design featuring my logo. I am really happy with the result and have had some lovely feedback from customers.
New mums often find pressure to lose the baby weight and look a certain way. What advice would you give new mums?
Enjoy the precious time nursing your newborn. Rest, nest and be kind to yourself.
Pregnancy and birth is a huge and taxing job for a woman’s body. Looking after a newborn is exhausting and the lack of sleep is a huge shock to the system. I think the best advice I can give having had two babies now is to understand it will take natural time for your body to get back to where it once was.
Take things slowly and don’t rush. Your baby will grow so quickly and before you know it you will be running around like a crazy woman. Focus on your little one and enjoy some cosy time getting to know them. The beautiful thing about children is that they love you just the way you are.
You are now a busy working mum of two. What advice would you give our readers on how to juggle parenthood whilst running your own business?
I think you have to be prepared that things take a lot longer than anticipated. I prioritise being a mum but I also love to work and it is indeed a juggling act. I have learned to let go of the control-freak in me and accept help when it’s offered.
There are days when nothing goes to plan and there are constant interruptions. It’s taken a while to get things up and running, so be sure set realistic goals.
When you are not busy working, what do you enjoy doing with the family?
We live in Sydney so we are blessed with beautiful beaches and great weather. We love days on the beach or BBQ’s in the garden. We make the most of the outdoors and catching up with friends and their little ones.
As a working mother, what do you do to relax and unwind?
It’s really the simple things these days. I absolutely love watching films. A trip to the cinema for some escapism and two hours peace is bliss. A manicure and pedicure on a Saturday while dad takes the girls swimming is another treat. I also try and make time to catch up with my friends as much as I can. People inspire me and I feed off their enthusiasm, ideas and motivation.
You obviously have some entrepreneurial skills within. What advice would you give our readers who want to set up their own business?
Go for it – don’t be scared. I think you have to be prepared to take a big risk but listen to your own intuition. If you fail then at least you’ve tried. It’s often an expensive process but do your research and there can be ways and means. Finally, never stop asking questions, it’s the only way you will learn. We all have different skill sets, don’t be afraid to ask about things you don’t understand or know about. For me there’s nothing better, or more rewarding, than being your own boss, and if you work alone, thank god there’s no one there to see some of the huge mistakes you can make on a daily basis.
Can you clue our readers in on what’s next for Silver Lining?
I would really like to launch a new collection. This first collection is really about offering the everyday essentials and I wanted to go with neutral, soft colours. I wanted to keep everything really cute and add some prettiness back into a bit of a depressing situation. I plan to work on a new collection that explores a bolder print and also some new designs. I am also working on my version of a ‘hip-friendly’ sleep swaddle.
What’s your motto?
Always look for the Silver Lining.