As a new parent, caring for your newborn’s umbilical cord can be daunting. However, it is important to ensure that the umbilical cord stump heals properly to prevent infection and other complications. In this article, we will provide all the information you need to know about caring for your newborn’s umbilical cord.
What is the Umbilical Cord?
The umbilical cord is the lifeline that connects the fetus to the placenta during pregnancy. It supplies the baby with oxygen and nutrients while in the womb. After the baby is born, the cord is clamped and cut, leaving a small stump. This stump eventually dries up and falls off, leaving behind a small scar.
How Long Does it Take for the Umbilical Cord to Fall Off?
The time it takes for the umbilical cord stump to fall off varies from baby to baby. On average, it takes about one to three weeks for the cord to dry up and fall off. During this time, keeping the area clean and dry is important to prevent infection.
How to Take Care of the Umbilical Cord
Here are some tips on how to take care of your newborn’s umbilical cord:
- Keep the Area Clean and Dry
The most important thing you can do to take care of your baby’s umbilical cord is to keep the area clean and dry. After each diaper change, you can do this by gently wiping the area with a clean, damp cloth. Avoid using any harsh soaps or alcohol on the area, as this can irritate the skin and delay the healing process.
- Avoid Covering the Cord with Diapers
While it may be tempting to cover the cord stump with a diaper, this can trap moisture and bacteria, leading to infection. Instead, fold down the top of the diaper to expose the cord stump and allow it to air dry.
- Be Gentle When Dressing Your Baby
When dressing your baby, be gentle and avoid pulling or tugging on the cord stump. Opt for loose-fitting clothing that does not rub against the area.
- Watch for Signs of Infection
It is essential to watch for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, discharge, or a foul odour from the area. If you notice any of these signs, contact your paediatrician right away.
- Let the Cord Fall Off Naturally
Please do not attempt to pull or cut the cord stump off before it is ready to fall off naturally. This can cause bleeding and increase the risk of infection.
When to Seek Medical Attention
While umbilical cord care is typically easy and straightforward, there are some situations where you may need to seek medical attention. Contact your paediatrician if:
- The area around the cord stump becomes red, swollen, or warm to the touch
- Discharge or pus is coming from the area
- Your baby develops a fever
- The cord stump has not fallen off after three weeks
- In some cases, your paediatrician may recommend an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection or suggest further evaluation if there are concerns about the healing process.
Taking care of your newborn’s umbilical cord is important to ensuring their overall health and well-being. Keeping the area clean and dry and watching for signs of infection can help ensure a smooth and complication-free healing process. Always consult your paediatrician for concerns or questions about your baby’s umbilical cord care.