The baby when in the womb receives the required nutrients from the mother’s uterus which is connected through the umbilical cord. It is cut when the baby is born, leaving a stump on its tummy. It is important to take proper care of this stump so that it heals properly and does not contract an infection.
The stump takes around 1 to 3 weeks to dry and drop off. It leaves a small wound which takes a few more days to heal.
Nursing the stump
The stump is to be kept clean and dry to ensure hygiene and thus proper healing.
If the baby wears a diaper, it is important to fold the diaper so that it does not cover or graze the stump. There are also diapers available with a cut out space for the stump. Leaving the stump out of the diaper ensures that it does not come in contact with urine and is exposed to air.
The baby is not to be given a full tub bath but only a sponge bath until the stump falls off. It is better to keep the stump exposed to air to aid in the drying and the healing process. Take care so as not to tug or pull at the stump.
When the stump falls off, it leaves behind a wound in its place and a little blood is normal. The wound heals on its own when exposed to air. The wound, however, is not serious and does not contain any nerve connection and any required treatment is painless for the baby.
The best way to steer clear of any possible infection to the stump is to maintain proper hygiene. If the baby cries a lot when the skin near the stump is touched or if the cord is red, it is better to consult a doctor. If the stump gives off a foul odor or secretes a yellow discharge, then it may be a cause of concern and a pediatrician should be referred to.
If the baby becomes lethargic, develops a fever and there is a fall in appetite, there is a possibility of an infection.
Importance of the umbilical stump
In the recent years it has been proved by research that the umbilical cord stump contains stem cells that can be brought to use for any future life-saving stem cell transplantation. The umbilical cord blood is also useful to infants and adults for the cure of certain types of cancer, bone marrow syndromes, genetic diseases and certain immune deficiencies. The use of umbilical cord stump for regenerative therapies and tissue therapies are currently being researched and tested.
The use of the umbilical cord blood calls for extensive testing and examination to test for any genetic disorders and infections. The umbilical cord is a useful product in the field of medicine and can be saved for potential future use.