When a baby is born, it is basically a part of the delivery process to cut the umbilical cord that connects the baby to the mother’s placenta. This is done by a procedure of clamping and cutting, which leaves the stump of the cord attached to the baby.
Talking about umbilical cord blood, cord blood banking has now become a growing practice where blood is taken from the umbilical cord of a newborn for future medicinal use. Read about the pros and cons of umbilical cord blood banking.
Fully maintaining proper hygiene and good health are extremely important factors in order to prevent infection when handling the umbilical cord stump. The stump will leave a small wound once it falls off and will take a few days to heal. Newborn umbilical cord bleeding may be noticed.
Is it normal for the umbilical cord to bleed? A bleeding umbilical cord can make a parent very worried thinking something could be seriously wrong. In fact, umbilical cord stump bleeding is uncommon but it really small amounts. If severe bleeding, strange odor, or unusual discharge is present, it may indicate an infection where proper medical management is necessary.
Baby Umbilical Cord Bleeding Care Tips
Here are ten tips in taking care of your baby’s umbilical cord.
1. Let the baby wear loose clothing.
Close-fitting babywear will trap sweat and bacteria close to the stump or wound, which will aggravate infection and slow the healing process.
Allow your baby’s skin to breathe by attiring them in just a loose shirt and diaper—those adorable dresses and onesies can wait!
2. Do not remove the stump on your own—allow it to drop off naturally.
While it’s natural to fret about how long it remains attached to your baby, resist the urge to pull it off, as that will injure the child and create an even larger wound which will take longer to heal and cause more bleeding.
Like a scab, umbilical cord bleeding after falling off may be noticed, which is normal.
3. Clean the stump and wound with plain water.
Proper umbilical cord care is important. Although rubbing alcohol was once the cleaning solution of choice for bleeding stumps or wounds, recent studies have shown that bleeding ceases more rapidly when you clean it with a little water, and it won’t increase the risk of infection.
Also, alcohol may irritate your baby’s skin.
4. Allow the skin to scab naturally. Avoid rubbing it vigorously.
Rubbing the stump and wound area may seem like a thorough way to clean it, but that may leave the tender skin feeling raw and cause the area to bleed anew, so minimize pressure as you wash away any blood or pus.
Remember that a scab is a layer that protects the vulnerable skin underneath and allows it to heal properly!
5. Ensure that the stump and wound are dry.
Pat your child’s umbilical stump or the wound dry immediately after contact with moisture to speed up the healing process.
The loose clothing will definitely help sweat from building up. Use a clean, dry cloth to gently remove any moisture.
6. Make sure that your baby’s diaper is properly folded in front and does not constantly rub against the stump or wound and chafe it.
Diapers are a necessary part of childcare, but even if your baby is wearing a loose shirt, a diaper that is too tight or keeps rubbing against the wound will prolong the bleeding and healing stage.
If you can’t fold the diaper, you can also cut out a little hole in front to allow the stump to peek out and stay dry.
7. Use sponge baths to keep your baby clean.
During this period, it is advised that you stick to giving your child sponge baths instead of baths in a tub to prevent the stump or wound from staying moist for too long or being exposed to bacteria.
8. In cleaning the stump or wound, use swabs or cotton balls instead of tissue.
Swabs and cotton balls are gentler on the skin and will avoid the tugging that you may experience with rougher tissue paper. Use a fresh one every time you clean it.
9. Monitor the length of time it takes for the stump to eventually fall off.
As the stump will remain attached to the child for approximately a week at the shortest—twenty-one days at the most—resist the urge to pull it when it shrivels.
Stumps can be slightly yellowish or greenish at the beginning, and will eventually turn dark brown or black before it falls off—this is not necessarily a sign of infection. However, if the stump is starting to swell and weep, call your doctor.
10. Consult your pediatrician before using antiseptics.
Although there is a rise in the use of echinacea and powdered goldenseal root, these powerful antimicrobial agents may cause allergic reactions in the newborn or even burn the skin.
Do not use any antiseptics or antimicrobial agents without the opinion of a doctor first!
Small amounts of bleeding can be normal when an umbilical cord is first cut and when its stump eventually falls off, so it’s rare that there’s any cause for alarm most of the time. If the stump or wound is swollen or weeping pus or any foul-smelling discharge, or bleeding continually, or your baby starts crying when the area is gently touched, though, consult a physician.
Sometimes it’s an infection, but it may be an umbilical granuloma that simply has persistent drainage—which is not accompanied by swelling, fevers or warmth, and can easily be removed with some silver nitrate, which will not harm the baby.
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