Once you’ve made it through the trials of labor and delivery, the next major concern will be taking care of your baby at home. One small but important aspect of at-home care is how to properly look after your baby’s umbilical cord stub. Because many infections can be linked to improper umbilical cord care, it is essential that every new mother know how to cleanse the area and what the warning signs are of potential infection.


First and foremost, it is important to keep the umbilical cord stub dry by giving sponge baths only and allowing the area to air dry, accelerating the process only by fanning the area gently with your hand. It is also important to allow the cord to heal naturally, and medicines that dry it out should be avoided unless personally recommended by a physician.


Early signs of infection include: the base being red or swollen, continual bleeding, pus, a foul smelling discharge, and/or contact with the area being seemingly painful to the baby. Though it does not occur particularly often, these signs could potentially result in omphalitis. Omphalitis is a life-threatening infection of the umbilical cord that constitutes as a medical emergency and must be addressed immediately by a qualified physician. Again, this condition is rather rare, but definitely something to be aware of. Other possible umbilical problems include umbilical granuloma, which is when a nodule of firm pinkish/red tissue (like scar tissue) protrudes with prolonged yellow or green discharge. This condition differs from an infection because it does not swell, nor is it feverish or tender. This can be treated fairly easily by cauterization, which should be performed only by a physician. Cauterization in the umbilical area is not painful to the baby because the stump has no nerve endings.


These are a couple of the main concerns that new parents may face when taking care of the umbilical cord area, however, if the area is kept clean and dry, it is likely that the stub will fall off without issue.


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