Why you should use Chlorhexidine gel to clean your baby’s Umbilical cord

Nigeria has the second-highest number of newborn deaths in the world, with an estimated 20,000 of these deaths being umbilical cord-related. This is, and to save the lives of these precious babies, the super gel, ‘’Chlorhexidine’’ surfaced!

Chlorhexidine gel is still new in Nigeria and has been found to help with excellent cord care at birth, especially in settings with poor hygiene. However, it is associated with lots of fears as mothers have complained of prolonged cord detachment and would instead use more familiar items.

The gel provides antiseptic treatment and gradually dries the cord; after the bath, your baby cleans the cord area with cotton wool balls and warm water. Press the gel at the base of the cord and use your hands to spread it over the stump. Do not cover yourself with diapers. Keep it in a safe place and keep it away from the eye or any other part of the body.

As the days go by, the cord dries off, but the base of the navel sometimes results in cream or brown colours, which looks scary and discourages many mothers. Ensure the stump is appropriately cleaned and dry before applying the gel, which should be once daily and not after every diaper change or cleanup.

Cord detachment using this method takes a longer time, unlike methylated spirit. However, it is better to prevent an infection than to treat it. Chlorhexidine Gel, aside from its drying property, is also medicinal and has also been shown to dry up the cord in between one week and three weeks, but the wait is worth it eventually.

Most importantly, ensure the cord is not bleeding, no foul discharge from the cord or pus oozing from the cord. Check for irritability, crankiness or failure to feed your baby. Once you notice any of the above, see your paediatrician. Your baby’s health comes first!


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