Umbilical Cord Care

Bringing a new life into the world is one of the greatest thrills parents will experience in their life. Once the birthing drama is over it is essential to keep your baby’s umbilical cord clean and dry in order to avoid infection and help your little one form a beautiful little belly button for you to kiss and tickle in days to come. Here are a few tips to help you care for your little one’s umbilical cord:

Clean Properly In The First Hour After Birth

An antiseptic should be applied to the umbilical stump immediately following your baby’s first bath. Hospital staff should take care of this as a routine part of patient care. However, if you have a home birth you will need to plan in advance with your mid-wife to make sure the bath and antiseptic application take place within the first hour after birth.

Remove the Clamp

If the clamp is left on your baby’s umbilical stump for more than 24 hours it can tear or cause irritation during diaper changes. Remove the stump before leaving the hospital so that you don’t forget to do it or set a reminder notice on your cell phone to remind yourself to remove the clamp if you opt for a home birth.

Clean Regularly

While there is an ongoing debate in the birthing community over how often it is necessary to clean your baby’s umbilical stump, everyone agrees that it must be done consistently until the cord falls off of its own accord. Use either alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to do the job and utilize cotton swabs or cotton balls as applicators.

Diaper changes provide the perfect opportunity to clean the cord stump. Anywhere between once and three times a day is the recommended cleaning frequency range. Make sure to press gently down on the skin on either side of the umbilical cord during cleaning in order to clean inside the stump area and beneath folds of skin.

Don’t Panic

It is normal to have your heart skip a few beats the first time you see discharge on your infant’s clothing around the umbilical cord area. Don’t worry; weeping from the umbilical stump area is completely normal
and so is a large amount of dark colored matter on your cleaning swabs. Think of your baby’s umbilical cord stump like a healing wound or weeping scab that will be fully healed in time with proper care.

Keep the Stump Dry

While it’s important to give your infant baths for good hygiene it is also imperative that you keep the stump area dry as much as possible for proper scabbing and a swift and natural detachment. The alcohol rub you use is a terrific drying agent but you should also make sure to thoroughly dry your infant after bathing or accidental spills in the belly region.

Resist the Urge to Take Matters into Your Own Hands

Do not remove the umbilical stump even when it appears to be just on the verge of falling off of its own accord. You don’t want to tear your infant’s skin or cause an unnecessary infection. Let nature take its course and one day you will be pleasantly surprised to find your little one’s stump missing or tucked into a fold of his or her diaper.

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