Umbilical cord care

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Becoming a new mom is filled with so many fun, exciting and sometimes nerve-wracking moments. There are also many things that you need to look out for and make sure you are doing correctly for your little one as a new mom. One of these often very daunting things is caring for your baby’s umbilical cord.

Huggies® expert, Lynn Bluff, registered nurse, midwife and childbirth educator, sheds some light on this subject.

How long does it take for a newborn’s belly button to heal?

Babies in the womb receive nourishment and oxygen through the placenta, which is attached to the inner wall of the mother’s uterus. The placenta is connected to the baby by the umbilical cord, which attaches to the baby through an opening in the baby’s tummy.

After your baby is born, the umbilical cord is clamped and cut close to your baby’s body, approximately 5-6cm long. It’s a painless procedure, and it leaves an umbilical stump attached to your baby’s belly button. The stump will dry up and drop off in about 7 to 21 days.

When the stump falls off, you may notice a little blood on the diaper – don’t worry, this is normal. Sometimes, after the stump falls off, there may also be a little oozing of clear or yellow fluid.

Cleaning the umbilical cord stump

To clean your baby’s umbilical cord, you can apply surgical spirits to an earbud or piece of cotton wool. Another option is to use sterile/cooled boiled water and gently clean the entire umbilical cord. The most important area to clean is where the cord is attached to the baby’s tummy.

“A baby’s umbilical cord can easily become infected if not cared for properly.”

Your baby may cry when you do this, not because it is painful but rather the spirits feel very cold against their tummy area. It is not painful to clean as there are no nerve endings in the cord.

It is very important to not put anything on the cord. Some cultures put dung on the cord and this is very dangerous as it can lead to neonatal tetanus, a disease that is often fatal for the baby. Do not even apply any creams or powders. Just clean it well and let it dry.

Over a week or so the cord will become drier and drier and eventually drop off. The drier the cord the sooner it will fall off.

Tips to keep your baby’s umbilical cord clean

A baby’s umbilical cord can easily become infected if not cared for properly. That’s why Huggies® developed Huggies® Preemie nappies and New Baby Size 0 nappies with an innovative umbilical cord cut-out. These Huggies® nappies make cord care easier for moms as they help prevent infection by allowing the umbilical cord to stay clean and dry, which is absolutely essential – but it is still important to clean your baby’s umbilical cord after every nappy change and bath.

Signs of umbilical cord infection

Infections are rare, but consult your paediatrician if:

  • Your baby cries when you touch the cord or the skin next to it.
  • The skin around the base of the cord is red.
  • The stump smells foul or has a yellowish discharge.

Also call the doctor if the stump bleeds continuously, as this may be a sign of a bleeding disorder.

Becoming a new mom is filled with so much joy and a few challenges. Huggies® would like to encourage you as a new mom to be a little easy on yourself during this process. Both you and baby are learning together and this takes time, but you will get the hang of it. Huggies® is there for you every step of your nappy journey – baby gets its first hug from mom and its second hug from Huggies®.

About Huggies®

Huggies® is known for providing a range of nappies for every stage of a baby’s life. From the very first moment up until the last time they wear a nappy. The range consists of Huggies® Preemies, Huggies® Gold New Baby, Huggies® Gold, Huggies® Pants, Huggies® Dry Comfort, and Huggies® Little Swimmers. They also offer a range of wipes – Huggies® Pure, Huggies® Natural Care and Huggies® Disney wipes. Huggies® is part of Kimberly-Clark South Africa, a subsidiary of the US-based Kimberly-Clark Corporation which market innovative health and hygiene products that people come into contact with every day.

Also read:

No, you shouldn’t eat your placenta, here’s why
10 things I wish I had known about the first week with a newborn