Umbilical cord: what are the warning signs to watch out for

When the baby is born, the umbilical cord that connected it to the placenta is cut and a clamp is placed to prevent it from bleeding. The umbilical cord stump detaches from the newborn’s womb between the second and third week of life and takes an additional three to five days for the wound to heal. What are the warning signs to watch out for during and after the process?

When it comes to caring for it , the most important thing is to always keep it as clean and dry as possible , preventing it from getting dirty with feces or urine. After the cord falls, the risk of infection persists until the navel has not completely healed, so the same care and vigilance must be continued until the gauze that covers it appears clean for a couple of days in a row.

How to clean the cord

To avoid infections, just clean it with soap and water and above all, dry it very well .

There are parents who use 70ยบ alcohol or other antiseptic solutions, but according to the AEPED “these methods have not been seen to be better than simply cleaning the umbilical cord with soap and water and drying it well afterwards.”

It can be helped to keep it dry by wrapping it with a clean, dry gauze, replacing it every time we change the diaper and after the bath.

Warning signs to watch out for

During the process of falling and healing, some abnormalities in the umbilical cord could appear that it is important that we control , as they could lead to greater complications. For example:

Cord bleeding

Although it is normal for a slight bleeding from the umbilical cord of the newborn to occur in the first days and then when it falls, we must monitor it as there are certain signs that may indicate that something is wrong.

A small bleeding may be due to the rubbing of the diaper, but it is not normal, for example, active bleeding that soaks through the gauze . A hemorrhage, pus and swelling in the navel area are reason for consultation with the pediatrician.

Smelly yellow discharge

Likewise, if the cord is wet and has a yellowish discharge (pus) and a foul-smelling discharge, they may be signs of omphalitis or umbilical infection .

Umbilical granuloma

Occasionally, after the cord falls off, especially if it falls off very early or was very thick, a small lump with well-defined pink or red edges may be noticed, although it may also be whitish, yellowish or even grayish in color. It is an umbilical granuloma . This is not an infection, but it is usually quite worrying as a yellowish discharge sometimes oozes.

It has nothing to do with poor cord care, but it is important that if you observe tissue that protrudes from the navel or suppurates, you consult your pediatrician, who, if confirming that it is a granuloma, will cauterize it with a topical application of silver nitrate. .

Redness or swelling of the belly button area

Also, if you notice that the area around the obligo is irritated (umbilical erythema) or inflamed, it could be a sign of possible infection. So, consult your doctor to assess it.

Delayed fall

The umbilical cord dries out and usually falls off between the fifth and fifteenth day after birth.

If after 15 days of life it has not yet detached, it is a reason for consultation. If a month passes and the cord has not fallen, in the absence of other pathologies, one might think of a deficit in the adhesion of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell. You have to go to the pediatrician to assess the situation and make the proper diagnosis.

Umbilical hernia

If the scar after the cut of the cord does not close well, a small section of the intestine may come out through the umbilical ring, producing an umbilical hernia , a soft lump that can be seen around the baby’s navel.

It is produced by a failure or defect in the wall of the belly (such as a buttonhole) that allows the exit of that portion of the intestine. It can be minimal (“hernia tip”) or giant (several centimeters in diameter and in prominence or bulge). It is called “omphalocele” if the hernia is large and is not covered with skin but with a thin transparent layer.

Cutaneous navel and proboscis

Another of the anomalies of the navel of which we have spoken have been the cutaneous navels and proboscis of the newborn . It occurs when a portion of the skin of the cord is protruding. If its size is short, it usually disappears with time (cutaneous navel), but if it is long and tube-shaped (proboscis navel), surgical intervention may be necessary.

Fever and malaise

If the baby also has symptoms such as fever, malaise or weakness, you should also go to the pediatrician, since it could be a sign that the navel has been infected and the infection can spread to other parts of the body, which in a young child can be very serious.

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