Caring for your baby’s umbilical cord
After giving birth in Singapore, parents are given alcohol swabs to care for the umbilical cord that is still attached to the baby – here we tell you the more recent evidence on cord care.
The umbilical cord is what has been feeding your baby in the womb during your pregnancy – it carries nutrients and oxygen to your baby. However, after the baby is born, this is then clamped and cut, and it leaves behind a short stump that sticks out where the umbilicus will form.
It used to be that there was concern over infection around the cord site, and so we used alcohol to keep it clean. However, research now shows that this may in fact kill the bacteria that helps the cord to dry and separate, and it therefore prolongs the time that the umbilical cord falls off.
One study carried out compared using alcohol swabs to water with umbilical cord care, and found that in the alcohol swabs group, the falling off was delayed, whilst no infection occurred in either group.
As the cord falls off, there may be a little blood. The time when you may want to get it checked out is if the cord hasn’t fallen off after 3 weeks, or if the skin surrounding the cord becomes red and swollen (signs of infection). It is normal for it to smell a bit, and to have a bit of pus around the site, but just clean it.
To clean the cord – get a piece of cotton wool, dip it into cool boiled water, and use this around the site if there is pus or fluid. The cord will become hard and dark, and then will separate from the baby’s tummy and leave behind your baby’s’ belly button!