Caring for the Umbilical Cord Stump

When your baby is born, the umbilical cord that connects your little one to the placenta will be clamped and then cut short. This cord is how your baby received nutrition and oxygen while in the womb, but don?t worry; your baby will not feel any pain or discomfort when it is cut. For around the first few weeks of your baby’s life, the umbilical cord stump will remain attached. While not very pretty to look at, it is important the stump is cared for properly and allowed to come off in its own time.

To care for the umbilical cord stump follow these simple steps;

? Keep the Stump Clear

Tight fitting clothing or nappies that cover the stump can stop air reaching it, and this can promote infection. To allow plenty of fresh air around the area and to stop any discomfort, try to keep clothing loose around the stump. It is a good idea to fold the waistband down on nappies while the stump remains.

? Clean the Stump Carefully

If the stump gets dirty and at regular intervals, wash it carefully using clean water. There is no need to add any soap, stick to plain water. The cord needs to be dried but avoid rubbing or patting it dry; it is best to use an absorbent cloth and gently allow it to soak up any moisture. Let plenty of air circulate to keep the stump dry. Some health professionals recommend not bathing your baby in a bathtub until the stump has come off and healed. You will be able to keep your new arrival clean with sponge baths until the stump is healed very easily.

? Look out for any signs of Infection

Sometimes, a cord stump does become infected. This is no cause for panic. If you are concerned about the umbilical stump or if baby is unwell or has a raised temperature, then speak to your health visitor or doctor. If your baby seems well but the stump begins to smell, gets overly warm, red or swollen or there is any blood or pus coming from it then you should also see your health visitor or doctor. It could well be that they decide to simply keep a close eye on the stump and let nature take its course or they may want to treat the infection.

? Leave it Be!

It can be tempting to remove the stump but this risks infection and could even cause baby discomfort. The best way to deal with the stump is to leave it be and allow it to come off naturally in its own time. Even if it only just still attached, resist the temptation to help it along. Continue to keep it clean and dry and it will come off easily by itself.

? When It’s Finally Gone!

When the stump does come off you may notice a few spots of blood and this is normal ? if you have concerns about it then get professional advice. After the stump is gone, you might notice some lumpy skin; these bumps are known as granulomas and are nothing to worry about. Your doctor will be able to treat granulomas easily and in some cases they clear up on their own.

The umbilical stump and what on earth to do with it can be one of the surprises that no-one really mentions before baby is born! Take comfort in the fact that the reason for this is that what seems like a worry for a few weeks is soon gone and replaced by a cute little belly button, the stump is soon forgotten.

Author: Arlene Copeland

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