Baby umbilical cord care
The umbilical cord has allowed your baby to feed and develop throughout his "in utero" life. Cut at birth, only a small piece remains which will heal: it is the umbilicus or the navel. You will have to take care of it for a few days. Advice from Élodie Lefort, childcare assistant.It will take between five and fifteen days for the umbilicus to dry, heal and fall off. During this time, it is vital to clean your baby's cord every day. A procedure that causes him no pain, rest assured! Discover in detail all the gestures that will allow good healing, then the final fall of the cord.
What is the umbilical cord used for?
When baby is born, it is often the dad (or the medical team!) who, by this symbolic gesture that everyone knows, cuts the umbilical cord. But do you really know what this cord is for?
The umbilical cord "connects the organism (essentially the circulatory system) of the fetus with that of the mother. This is done through the placenta", explains Université Numérique Francophone des Sciences de la Santé et du Sport . It contains "a kind of gelatin (Wharton's jelly) in which bathes the umbilical vein which carries oxygenated blood and the two umbilical arteries". Conclusion: it allows all the necessary vital exchanges between the child and the mother, and therefore ensures the proper development of the embryo, then of the fetus!
When to cut the umbilical cord?
We generally wait four to five minutes after delivery before cutting the cord, which has connected the mother to her baby for nine months.
The cord is then cut one centimeter from the navel by the midwife or doctor. It can be checked for the presence of two arteries and one vein. Finally, a small sterile clamp called "the Bar clamp" is placed there, which promotes healing and the formation of the navel.
In the meantime, the cord will require specific daily care until it falls off. Don't be afraid, your baby isn't in pain.
What products should be used to clean the umbilical cord?
Before proceeding, wash your hands thoroughly. This is important to avoid any risk of transmission of infection.
Arrange the materials needed for cord care near the changing table:
An antiseptic lotion: Biseptine, aqueous chlorhexidine...;
Single doses of saline and eosin;
A gauze or net.
Recommendations for frequency of care in the newborn
On the first and second day after birth, you should clean the umbilical cord at each diaper change. It is generally the second day that the clamp is removed, if the cord is dry.
Then, the care will be done "every second change until the cord falls", indicates the website of the Maternity and Gynecology of the Robert Debré Hospital in Paris . You must "then continue to disinfect the umbilicus morning and evening until complete healing (clean cord without any secretion)".
Tip: you can use bath time to gently cleanse baby's umbilical cord.
How to take care of the umbilical cord for good healing?
Here are the steps to properly care for your baby's umbilical cord:
Remove baby's diaper;
Soak the sterile compress in the antiseptic product. Avoid bringing the bottle and the compress into contact;
Then "fold down the 4 corners of the compress to form a parachute and clean the cord by passing the compress from the top to the base", adds the website (Source 2);
"Then, change the compress and do the same on the other side of the cord"until the cord is clean,
Finish the treatment by applying a new dry compress.
Navel that oozes: is it normal?
We will tell you this at the maternity ward, but it is possible that the umbilicus will ooze a little during the first few days. Check that there is no swelling, redness, if not talk to your doctor.
During the first few months, a small crust may form at the bottom of the navel: this is normal, but it can make cleaning more complicated.
Falling of the umbilical cord: how to make it fall?
After having done the cord care correctly, there are different schools depending on the maternities, which will allow the umbilical cord to fall more or less quickly:
Or let the scar air dry. Do not cover it with the diaper. This effective method will allow complete and rapid healing, in about five days;
Either you hold the compress with a net or by placing the layer on top. It then takes eight to ten days for the cord to fall.
However, experts tend to advise letting the umbilical cord air dry, quietly.
When the cord has fallen off, you can continue cleaning the navel with warm boiled water or saline. It may well dry out until complete healing.
How to know if the umbilical cord is infected?
Sometimes, it happens that the cord of the child heals badly, that it is torn, or that an infection declares itself, with very particular signs like bleeding or swelling. You must know how to recognize them:
The skin around the cord or the navel is swollen, it is red;
You notice bleeding that does not stop for several minutes after cleaning;
You notice a yellowish and odorous discharge;
The cord did not fall off after a month of life;
The cord was ripped off by accident.
In the presence of these signs, consult a doctor.
Bleeding umbilical cord: what to do?
If you notice small bleeding when the cord has not yet fallen, there is no need to panic at first. Indeed, it is a sign that the blood vessels are separating. This bleeding is normal, as long as it does not last. If they continue after applying gentle pressure to the bleeding area for several minutes, contact your doctor.
If the bleeding occurs after the cord has fallen off, with the presence of a small red bump that oozes over it, the cord is healing poorly. Tell your doctor, he may prescribe a silver nitrate drying agent to clean the cord with.
Why does the umbilical cord smell bad?
The baby's navel is a cavity that can harbor dead skin, bacteria... Thanks to regular cleaning, if there is a bad smell, it should go away. If after cleaning, the cord continues to smell bad, and you also notice a yellowish and odorous discharge, consult your doctor as soon as possible.