Inside your ovary, the umbilical cord is the lifeline of your baby from your body. The baby’s health and nutritional needs are met by the placenta, and the umbilical cord is the connection between the growing baby and the placenta. Oxygen and other needs of your developing baby is carried by the umbilical cord attached to the baby through a small opening in the abdomen, where the navel is. Post-delivery, the doctor or the midwife detaches the cord to the size of a stump at your baby’s navel. This stump does not have its supply of blood vessels. It eventually dries, shrivels, and withers in a few weeks. Usually, it does not take more than 3 weeks for the stump to disappear.
However, the stump is prone to infections. Your doctor will instruct you on how to take care of the cord until it withers naturally. Complications may occur, and timely action from the doctor is vital. Keep a note on the symptoms, and remember not to panic.
Does It Hurt The Baby When The Umbilical Cord Is Cut?
The umbilical cord does not have nerve connections with your baby’s body, so there is no pain when the midwife cuts or clamps it. The doctor usually places a plastic clamp on the stump to speed up its drying. When the stump turns black and falls off, the navel area may require some healing. In fact, there can be a little blood in your baby’s nappy, and it is not necessarily a cause of alarm.
Do remember to avoid pulling on the stump to detach it (even when it hangs only by a thread). Allow nature her natural course to take care of the little body. It takes about ten days for the navel to heal completely after the stump detaches.
What Are The Symptoms of Umbilical Cord Infections?
The incidence of a newborn developing a umbilical cord infection is 1 in 200. Since it is a bacterial infection, it must not be taken lightly, and if you feel the area around the navel is tender and swollen with red color spread around, it may well be wise to see the doctor.
- Persistent Bleeding: Persistent bleeding or red streaks from the navel are some signs of infection. Gently wipe the area with a sterile gauge and apply slight pressure for about 10 minutes when you see blood. The blood stops most of the time
- Pee and Poop: The friction from a diaper may aggravate the infection. Also, pee and poop from the diaper may touch the cord and make it vulnerable to infection. Fold the diaper at the top or cut a wedge in the navel area to handle such practical issues
- Pus and Redness: Formation of pus and redness in the cord requires specialist attention as well. Dried pus on the surface of the navel can also appear. Sometimes, fever may accompany redness. In any of the above circumstances, do not hesitate to contact the doctor right away, day or night! Cloudy discharge from the navel may also be observed
- Behavioral Changes: The baby may become lethargic or generally unwell. Have patience and take the gentlest care of the little body
- Fever above 100.4°Fr 38.0°C However, you must not self-medicate the baby
- Painful Cries: Contact the doctor when your baby cries every time you touch the stump. In such sensitive situations, it can be a pronounced pinkish or reddish
- Muscle Tone: Poor muscle tone in the newborn also indicate something is not well with the baby
- Delay in separation: If it takes more than 15 days for the umbilical stump to fall off, you should seek the advice of the pediatrician
Since the small wound is healing, it is normal to see some blood around the stump. However, if there are any signs of infection, you must seek your doctor’s advice promptly so as to contain the infection at early stages itself.
Complications Of Umbilical Cord Infections
- Umbilical Granuloma: The cord may also form a pink, round nubbin of tissue at the navel’s center instead of completely drying at once. This glob of tissues is called a granuloma and it drains a light yellow fluid. Your doctor will advise you on the best ways to keep it clean. Please do not use alcohol to clean the infections. Whenever the stump persists after it is supposed to fall, it indicates your baby’s immune system is not strong enough. Contact your doctor and she will take care of the issue. Only 1 in about 500 newborns can get granuloma , but if left untreated, it can cause other infections
- Umbilical hernia: A bulging cord may also be a sign of umbilical hernia. This happens when the belly button sticks out because of weak surrounding muscles. It is not a cause of worry, does not cause pain, and stabilizes by itself when the muscles gain strength naturally. Taking care of a newborn is among the most special experiences of life. It is exhausting and immensely gratifying at the same time
- Omphalitis: A bacterial infection with a redness in the area can occur in 1 newborn in 200 cases. This bacterial infection can spread to other surrounding tissues, and the area could also have a foul odor. This is a medical emergency that needs to be attended on priority
How To Prevent Umbilical Cord Infections?
Your little one’s umbilical cord will dry and change color before eventually falling off. Parents should note the following aspects of caring for the drying umbilical stump.
- Give your baby a bath daily, preferably in herbal bathing products. Avoid harsh shampoos at all costs
- You can also use a warm and moist sponge to take care of the baby. It is safe to wet the stump, and it does not make infection likely. In fact, many pediatric providers only recommend sponge baths until the stump withers. However, you need to keep it dry always. Do not leave it wet! Dry it by gently patting with a clean cloth. Make sure that it is not wet under the diapers
- Always wipe your hands with a hand sanitizer before touching the baby
- Babies born prematurely cannot have baths for some time. You will have to use a special antiseptic solution to care for your little one