By: Anna Katrina J. Bolivar
If you’re a first-time mom, we’re sure that one of your concerns is how to care for the delicate umbilical stump protruding on your newborn’s belly. We feel you, mom! It’s almost as scary as cutting the tiny fragile nails of your baby for the first time. Indeed, there are a lot of nerve-wracking concerns when taking care of a newborn.
The umbilical stump will naturally detach from your baby’s body in about one to two weeks so do not force it out. It will just fall off when it has completely dried. While waiting for it to fall off, parents and caregivers should give it delicate treatment to prevent unnecessary irritation and infection.
Proper umbilical stump care
It is important that the area surrounding the stump is always kept clean. Some use rubbing alcohol on its base, while some believe that water and soap are enough to keep it clean. When in doubt, always consult your pediatrician.
After cleaning the base, it is important that that stump is allowed to ‘breathe’ or be exposed to air. This would allow for faster healing. The ‘bigkis’ or belly binder is not so ideal to use as this would cover the stump and might only encourage moisture and infection. Clothe your newborn in a way that would allow some air to circulate around the cord stump area. Avoid tight shirts and diapers as this might cause irritation and untimely fall off of the stump.
Caregivers should be very careful and patient in caring for the umbilical stump. Never pull the stump out even when it seems to be hanging on by a thread! It will naturally fall off on its own. Let your baby’s body take its own course.
After the umbilical stump falls off
When the umbilical stump falls off, it is normal to notice a small raw spot or a few drops of blood. It is also not uncommon to see a yellow sticky fluid oozing out when the stump falls off. These things should not cause worry. However, if you suspect anything wrong like continuous or intermittent bleeding, irritation, or pus, bring your baby to the pediatrician for immediate intervention.
After the umbilical stump falls off, continue to keep the area clean and dry. There are parents who keep the stump for sentimental reasons. Some keep the umbilical stump on scrapbooks or memory books. If you would opt to do this, ensure that the stump is completely dry before keeping it. Others prefer to bury it, turn it into jewelry, or frame it up.
Anna Katrina Bolivar is a first-time mom to a baby girl. She’s a stay-at-home, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and cosleeping mom. She has her own blog at The Everyday Nanay. Despite all the challenges of a stay-at-home mom, she always goes to sleep with a heart that is overflowing with love for the Lord, her husband, and their precious little girl.