The umbilical cord provides nourishment to the fetus throughout the nine months of pregnancy. Now, it has become a purplish-blue stump that is about one inch long. Normally, this umbilical stump will fall off, completely healed, within a couple of weeks.
However, in some babies it will take two months for the stump to get dried and fall off. No attempt should be made to pull off the cord before complete heal has occurred. This will lead to active bleeding, which results in the appearance of one blood drop after another. Extreme care should be taken to ensure that both irritation and resultant infection are avoided as long as the cord remains on the body.
The umbilical stump and its premises should be kept clean. In some babies in whom the umbilical cord simply refuses to get fried, doctors recommend cleaning the base of the cord by rubbing alcohol. This needs to be done after every diaper change. However, some pediatricians are completely against this idea and believe that skin will be irritated by the presence of alcohol and healing will be delayed.
It is important to ensure that the cord is exposed to air always. This will minimize the amount of time required for cord to heal completely. It is advisable to give the baby sponge baths till the cord gets fully healed. The baby should be exposed to tub bath only after the falling off of the umbilical cord.
It is always better to allow the natural healing of the cord. However, immediate medical aid should be provided if you notice yellowish or white pus oozing out from the cord. Red and swollen umbilicus indicates that the cord has become infected.
Foul smelling discharge and traces of blood are yet other symptoms of infection. Umbilical Granuloma is a condition that is characterized by a small nodule of hard pinkish-red tissue along with persistent yellow-green discharge.