When your baby comes out, you will see this whitish, opaque cord that starts from his abdomen right down to the placenta. This umbilical cord served as a connection between mother and baby during the entire fetal life. Nutrition and oxygen that came from the mother goes into the placenta with the aid of the circulatory system, which is passed to the baby via the umbilical cord. Since this physiologic connection between mother and infant is no longer needed, the umbilical cord is then severed. Your baby will be bathed, and the umbilical cord will be clamped and cut down again to stub that is 1 inch in length. Before leaving the hospital the clamp is removed from your baby so you can take care of the umbilical cord without any hindrances.
Most parents are concerned with cleaning their baby’s umbilical cord, and for the right reasons. There are a lot of complications that can occur due to lack or improper care. But with proper care, these complications will be prevented.
HOW TO CLEAN THE UMBILICAL CORD
1) You will need to prepare the following and the following only for cleaning your baby’s umbilical stump:
a. Clean cotton balls
b. 70% isopropyl alcohol.
c. Soft, dry, clean absorbent cloth
2) Make sure that the baby is already clean and wash your hands properly.
3) Observe the cord and note for any discharges or foul smell. It’s normal to see some dry, crusted blood at the base of the umbilical cord.
4) Soak the cotton ball with alcohol. Wipe the base of the stump three times in a circular motion. Imagine that the base of your baby’s umbilical stump is a clock and your cotton ball is the second hand. Don’t worry, alcohol won’t sting your baby for there are no nerve endings located where you will clean the stump.
5) Pat dry the stub and make sure you do so carefully without causing undue trauma to the stump. Do not rub on the stump for you might pull on it accidentally.
6) Do this procedure three times daily or as recommended by the pediatrician until the stump falls off.
HOW TO CARE FOR THE UMBILICAL CORD
1) Until your baby’s umbilical stump falls off, give your baby a sponge bath to prevent wetting the umbilical stump.
2) On average, the umbilical stump falls off between 2-3 weeks. Never succumb to the temptation to pull off the stump by yourself. You must let your baby’s body do its job in closing the base of the stump. Pulling the stump will cause the need for surgery.
3) Fold your baby’s diaper over to expose the stump. It is important to keep the stump exposed to help it dry faster.
4) Contrary to what your custom would say, tying a binder with an inserted penny around your baby’s abdomen will not create a belly button that’s an “inny.” Genetics and Mother Nature pre-determines that condition, and cannot be dictated otherwise.
5) If you observe foul-smelling discharge, non-stop bleeding, tender and reddish base that causes your baby to cry when it is touched, coupled with fever, see a pediatrician immediately. Your baby may need some antibiotics or a minor surgery to close the base.
It’s not that frightening to take care of an umbilical cord stump. Just make sure that all that you use to dress your baby and clean the stump are clean to prevent any complications. As much as possible, avoid touching your baby’s umbilical stump, and let nature take care letting the stump falls off. When the stump has fallen off, wait for a while until the pinkish skin located where the umbilical cord was turns into the same color as your baby’s skin before giving her a full bath.