Many first time mothers are concerned about their babies’ umbilical cord as most cord stumps look worse than they really are. Soon after birth, an umbilical cord stump might look white and shiny and may feel a little damp. As it dries and heals, it may turn brown, grey, or even black. This is normal.
In Nigeria, Lots of Myths surround the care of the cord, with many grandmothers and mothers-in-law wanting to clean the cord with different concoctions.
Some use toothpaste, others use rags, lantern or other sources of heat, such practices many times lead to infection of the cord, hence it is important that we educate them respectfully about the right way to care for the cord.
Please note that the use of methylated spirit and gentian violet has been replaced by Chlorhexidine gel (white tube) which has been found very effective in the care of the cord.
Before you start, Gather all the items you will need; cotton swabs, a small bowl of water, diaper and keep a clean cloth nearby. Wash Your Hands to prevent the chance of spreading any germs that might cause infection and do a quick inspection of the stump and area around it.
Check for foul-smelling discharge, oozing pus, redness, tenderness or swelling of the surrounding skin, continuous bleeding, fever, lethargy, poor feeding, or irritability," If you notice any of these symptoms, call your paediatrician immediately.
If the cord looks fine, Dip a cotton swab in warm water. Squeeze the tip to remove the excess water. Gently clean around the base of the cord, surrounding skin and dry, it is important that the umbilical cord remain clean and dry until it falls off naturally.
Apply your Chlorhexidine gel from the base of the stump and sweep upwards, this should be done daily. Don't use any lotion, powder, or oils on the stump as they can lead to infection. Avoid covering the stump with a diaper, It should fall off within the first 7-14 days, If it doesn't heal or dry completely within 2 weeks, call your doctor.