When you have your first child, there’s so much to keep up with. Learning new sleeping and feeding routines, figuring out what they need, and knowing when things aren’t quite right.
But for most people, the process of your child’s umbilical stump healing is a foreign one. Without a visual reference, how can you know if the stump is healing as it should, if it’s getting infected, or how to care for it?
Well, this is that reference. Consider it your survival guide to your baby’s umbilical stump!
Does the Umbilical Stump Hurt the Baby?
No, it doesn’t. The umbilical cord has no nerve endings so it doesn’t hurt when the cord is cut, and it doesn’t hurt when the umbilical cord is clamped.
When Should I Be Concerned About the Umbilical Stump?
Look for any redness, pus or tender skin surrounding your baby’s umbilical stump. If your baby develops any of these or develops a temperature, take him to your local GP or hospital as soon as you can. An umbilical cord infection is considered a medical emergency and up to 15% of babies who develop an infection can die.
An infection that develops in the umbilical stump is called ‘Omphalitis’. It is rare, only seen in approximately 0.7% of babies.
Other signs of Omphalitis include:
- A bad smell coming from the umbilical stump area
- Any sign of redness or pus
- Your baby is fussier than normal
- Your baby sleeps more than is normal
- Your baby develops a fever
What is Normal for an Umbilical Stump?
It is totally normal for your baby’s umbilical stump to scab up a bit or even bleed a tiny bit.
Day 1 Umbilical Stump
Congratulations! You’ve gotten through the birth of your baby, and it’s all excitement from here. Not long after you’ve given birth, a midwife or doctor will cut and clamp the umbilical cord. Neither you nor your child, can feel this happening.
The cord is cut about 2-3 cm away from his stomach, leaving a stump that has a plastic clamp.
Day 2 Umbilical Stump
Now, the stump will look a little strange on your child’s belly, and the clamp will be awkward as you try to adjust to changing nappies and dressing your child. It’s likely that the clamp will be left on the stump as it heals and dries, a process that takes around 7-10 days.
Day 3 Umbilical Stump
By the third day, your baby’s stump will be looking quite a bit drier and will also have likely shrunk a bit. However, it is still normal for there to be a few spots of blood on your child’s nappy. This is only caused by the nappy rubbing against the stump, and provided it is just a few spots, it’s nothing to worry about.
Day 4 Umbilical Stump
On the fourth day, the drying will be well underway. However, there is still a risk of infection, as with any open wound. It’s important that the stump is kept clean and dry so that infection cannot take hold. The stump can be washed with a warm, damp cloth or sponge, but you’ll need to make sure you dry it well afterwards.
Day 5 Umbilical Stump
Every day, you should be thoroughly checking the stump to make sure there are no signs of infection. These signs include any kind of redness in the skin around the stump, as well as swelling or a strange smell. If you notice these, talk to your doctor.
Day 6 Umbilical Stump
Remember there is a risk of infection with the stump being so close to your child’s nappy, so make sure that you always thoroughly dry the stump before putting on their nappy and dressing them. At this point, the stump will be quite shrunken and dark.
Day 7 Umbilical Stump
To encourage the stump to thoroughly dry out and start to fall off, it’s perfectly ok to leave the stump open to the air. One simple way to do this is to fold down your baby’s nappy, and fold up their shirt, just a little when they’re laying down.
Some newborn nappies have an actual notch for this.
Day 8 Umbilical Stump
By the 8th day, you can expect the stump will have started to come away from what will be your child’s belly button in the very near future. This detachment is natural, and you should definitely not attempt to pull the stump away yourself. It will come off in its own time.
Day 9 Umbilical Stump
Around day 9 or 10, you can expect the stump to have completely detached from your child’s stomach. What is left is a small, painless, wound that will eventually close over and become your child’s belly button. If this doesn’t happen, or you’re worried about the progress of the stump healing, just chat to your doctor, midwife, or heath nurse.
If you become concerned about any symptoms please seek immediate medical attention we have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice https://www.stayathomemum.com.au/my-kids/babies/important-hotlines-websites/
SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information. All information provided is correct at time of publication.