The umbilical cord is for supplying oxygen and nutrients to a developing baby. After conceiving, the umbilical cord is not anymore needed. So the cord is clamped and snipped. The procedure leaves a short umbilical stump, which is attached to the baby’s belly button.
Further, it takes about 1 to 2 weeks for the stump to dry and fall off. Also, the stump requires attentive care to prevent infection and irritation. When it falls off, you may see blood on your baby’s diaper – don’t fret, because it’s normal. Occasionally, after the stump falls off, you’ll notice a yellow or clear fluid. Also, bits of thick flesh may remain.
So how can you care for your baby’s umbilical cord until the stump falls off?
• Keep it clean
If the stump feels sticky or looks dirty, clean the stump with ordinary water. Next, dry it by placing a clean cloth around the stump.
Further, clean the area once daily with a cotton ball. First, soak it in warm water that contains a mild soap. Next, wipe the skin around it and the sides of the stump. With a soft cloth, pat the area dry.
Make sure your baby’s diaper doesn’t cover the stump. Also, you can buy diapers with a space for the umbilical cord stump. This is necessary because the stump needs air. It also prevents contact with feces or urine.
• Keep The Area Dry
Expose the cord to air as often as it lets the base of the cord to dry. Further, it helps the stump to heal faster.
Other ways to care for your baby’s umbilical cord include:
• Avoid tub baths; instead, give your newborn sponge baths.
• During warm weather, wear your baby a loose shirt and a diaper. This allows air to circulate and helps speed up the healing process.
• Don’t dress your newborn in bodysuit-style clothing.
• Even though the cord is hanging by a thread, never pull off the stump.
Don’t clean the stump with alcohol. Before, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends cleaning the stump with a cotton swab containing alcohol. But recent studies indicate that alcohol doesn’t help to speed up the healing process. They found out that untreated stumps heal quicker than alcohol-swabbed stumps. As a result, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed its recommendation.
Signs of infection
The following signs seldom occur, but if you see any, contact your physician immediately. This is because some symptoms can lead to a life-threatening condition. Again, call a physician right away if:
• The temperature of the belly button is higher than other skin;
• You will notice pus-like and cloudy drainage with a foul smell
• Your baby cries when you touch the area.
• The surrounding skin is swollen, red, or irritated
Other symptoms include:
• Abdominal swelling
• Low appetite
Once the cord falls off, continue to keep the area dry and clean. Also, call a doctor if you notice any unusual bleeding or infection.