Cleaning and taking care of the umbilical cord is a scary task for mothers who have just had their first baby. There is no need to be scared, as taking care of the umbilical cord is not really difficult, especially if it is dry and clean. Basically, the umbilical cord can be left exposed without a gauze cover and must be kept dry all the time. Another important point is to make sure you wash your hands before taking care of the umbilical cord. The steps to take care of the umbilical cord are as follows:
1. As long as the umbilical cord has not come off (usually 5-21 days), babies do not need to be bathed too often. Just rub your baby with a soft towel immersed in warm water. This is to prevent the umbilical cord from getting damp and at the same time keeping it dry.
2. If the baby is bathed, the area around the umbilical cord should be dried carefully to ensure no water remains.
3. Usually the umbilical cord of a newborn baby is clean and not sticky. However if some parts of the cord's base seem wet and sticky, it can be cleaned with a cotton ball that has been sterilized with alcohol of 70% content.
4. Wrap the umbilical cord in sterile gauze.
5. Be careful when putting clothes on your baby, try to keep away the diaper and pants from the umbilical cord to prevent irritation.
6. DO NOT cover the cord with a plaster, an umbilical belt, or any kind of an elastic mesh as it will cause irritation.
7. DO NOT clean or treat the umbilical cord using Mercurochrome, antiseptic ointment, or any kind of medicine without a physician's recommendation.
Be wary and promptly contact your doctor, if pus is seen on the umbilical cord and it reeks, and the cord's base or the skin around it looks reddish and swelling. Be suspicious if the baby is always crying whenever his/her umbilical cord is touched.