The umbilical cord is what helps to transport nutrients from you to your baby throughout your pregnancy. After your baby is born, it is cut and your baby is left with a purplish- blue stamp that is about half- inch to an inch long. It takes some time to fall off though, it depends on the baby. It is approximately 1 to 2 weeks. But it’s okay if it falls before then, as long as the area that surrounds it is kept clean and dry.
While growing up, I knew a lot about this because at different times, I had seen mothers clean up the surroundings around their baby’s navel. I remember seeing mothers use cotton wool and spirit. This image stuck to my memory for so long to the extent that I imagined doing the same to my child when I have mine.
Fast forward to when I got pregnant, during antenatal classes, i was always so very attentive. I didn’t miss any class. I was such a good “student ” ..lol. However, during one of the classes, we were taught how to clean our baby’s umbilical cord…we were told that we shouldn’t use spirit and cotton wool, that we should use a particular gel, ( I won’t mention the name so as not to discredit any brand). We were told the importance of using this gel as against using spirit and cotton wool. The explanations were so detailed that all the expectant mothers that day were given a pack of it each.
Suffice to say that, I used two hospitals for antenatal (government & private). Both hospital recommended the same gel. While one gave us for free, the other one included it in our list of hospital bag essentials.
I read a whole lot while I was pregnant. As regards caring for your baby’s umbilical cord, I read that, pediatricians recommend cleaning the base of the cord while rubbing alcohol. However, most now recommend leaving the stump completely alone because alcohol (spirit) is believed to irritate the skin, thereby causing delay in healing.
As a result of the “new found knowledge ” that I had as regards using the gel over spirit, I resorted to using the gel (afterall I want only the best for my daughter).
Precisely seven days after i had my daughter, her umbilical cord fell off. But I noticed it was still always kind of wet, I also noticed that instead of it to be drying up, it was just remaining the same. I drew my mom’s attention to it and she suggested we took her to the hospital to see her pediatrician.
Trust Nigerian nurses/ matrons…there’s no insult they did not give me…lol. They asked me where I heard that gel is better than alcohol…they literally dragged my daughter off my hands and laid her on a table, pulled up her dress and use cotton wool and spirit to clean her navel. It was a thorough clean I must confess, then they poured something that looked like powder ( I can’t remember the name now) on her navel and said they have to take her sample to run test to be sure she has not gotten an infection.
At that moment, my heart started beating so fast because I started blaming myself ( you know when you are asking yourself questions? Yes, I was asking myself why I didn’t just use the cotton wool & spirit I’m familiar with…)
The doctor gave her some drugs and said we should come back in seven days time for the test results.
Just like magic, after 2 days, with the use of cotton wool and spirit, her navel healed up nice and cute. Ahhhh…I was so ecstatic. I was relieved…I almost didn’t want to go back for the rest result but I did and it came out negative to my delight.
Thank God for a mother’s intuition, it didnt escalate and she didn’t have those symptoms of an infected umbilical cord such as,
• Pus/ discharge.
• Sleeplessness/ fussiness/ discomfort
• Foul or bad smell coming from the cord etc.
So, here is how to clean the umbilical cord;
• Pour little quantity of spirit on a considerable size of cotton wool, lift up the cord and clean around its base. Apply it carefully so that the base doesn’t become sticky….ensure that you clean the area where the cord attaches to the skin.
It’s also important to remember that;
• You shouldn’t put any cream on the umbilical cord.
• Avoid getting the umbilical cord wet.
• Never cover the area with bandage.
• It is known to heal on its own…so let it heal on it’s own.
If you notice anything strange during the healing process of your child’s umbilical cord, don’t hesitate to see a doctor like I did.
N.B: Some mothers swore that the gel worked for their babies though.
How was your experience with your baby’s umbilical cord? How long did it take to heal? Did you experience any form of infection in your baby?
Share in the comment section below.