Bringing Your Baby Home
Caring for the Umbilical Cord
Tips on caring for the umbilical cord
When babies are born, doctors cut off their umbilical cord. This tube connects the developing fetus to the placenta. The placenta allows mothers to provide oxygen and nourishment to their unborn child. This tube is clamped and cut off once the baby is born leaving approximately a 1-inch stump that will naturally fall off within 10 — 21 days. This will leave a small wound that will heal in 2 weeks’ time.
Here are some tips on how to take care of the umbilical cord of a newborn:
1. When changing diapers, be sure to fasten it just below the baby”s tummy. This will expose the cord and keep it away from baby”s urine.
2. The cord must be cleaned and dried regularly. To speed up the healing process, babies must be wearing diapers and loose shirts to allow the air to circulate. Mothers should not use bodysuits within 21 days or until the stamp has fallen off.
3. Never pull out the stamp even if it appears like it is about to fall off.
4. Give babies sponge baths until the 21st day or until the stump has fallen off.
5. Bleeding or minor discharge is normal before and after the cord has fallen off. Use cotton balls to clean the stump. However, if the stump continues to bleed or release foul odor, get medical attention immediately.
6. There are some cases where the cord will not fall off within 2 months. In these cases, calling your doctor to have it removed is recommended.
7. In cleaning the stump, use swabs every time the diaper is being changed. This will prevent infection and allow for faster healing.
The umbilical cord is a very important part of the anatomy for unborn babies. It is considered the lifeline that supplies all nutrients and oxygen needed to survive. Properly caring for it after birth is equally important. Studies show that most neonatal tetanus is caused by infection originating from the umbilical cord. Here are some do”s and don”ts when taking good care of the umbilical cord:
1. Do watch out for umbilical cord infection. Common signs are yellow and foul-smelling discharge. Tenderness and redness of the skin around the cord should also alert parents to call the doctor as soon as possible.
2. Call a doctor immediately if the cord is bleeding profusely. This usually happens when the cord is accidentally pulled while changing diapers.
3. If the stump does not naturally fall off until the baby reach 2 months, this suggests possible immunological or anatomical abnormality problem. When this happens, immediately get medical assistance.
4. When cleaning the umbilical cord, use topical antiseptic instead of alcohol. This is proven to greatly reduce if not eliminate infection.
5. For first time mothers, experts suggest to get advice about cord care from their doctor. Remember to follow all the tips, write them down and keep handy for reference.
6. When the cord naturally falls off, expect it to leave a raw spot that will heal within a few days. This should also be dried to prevent infection. Mothers need not use a bandage, it is best to leave it alone and let it dry naturally. Continue to place the diaper just below the baby”s tummy to leave space for the unhealed navel.
Proper care of the umbilical cord is as important as making sure that the baby will stay healthy and away from danger. Studies show that newborn mortality rate rises among countries where correct information on caring for the newborn is not unavailable.
First time mothers can search the internet or read books for information in keeping the baby away from infection, they can also request help from their physician or medical practitioner by asking tips and techniques on proper cord care. Lastly, women should enjoy motherhood by being worry-free when a simple incident happens that does not require medical attention. New mothers are prone to overreacting when they notice drops of blood and immediately call a doctor when all they have to do is clean the umbilical cord and keep it dry all the time.