Infection in a baby comes in all shapes and sizes. There is no such body part which the infection cannot touch. And when an infection happens a child can get restless and irritable irrespective of where it is.
With the arrival of a baby the whole scene shifts. The little one needs attention round the clock. One can easily get busy with their day to day needs. The long list of looking after includes feeding, bathing and unending chores. Amongst all this, we may forget a lot of things, including taking care of the belly button. Yes, you heard that taking care of the belly button.
The belly button has a lot of significance. During pregnancy, the baby’s connection with the mother is through the umbilical cord. Though both the baby and mother bond in many ways this bond is very special and important. The umbilical cord provides oxygen, nutrition and most important a life support from the mother. Once the baby is born, the umbilical cord is usually cut and clamped. A bit is left which is known as umbilical cord stump. When this stump dries, it falls off giving rise to the belly button.
The whole process may take some weeks to a month. But during this time if proper care is not taken then an infection may develop. This is known as Omphalitis. When I first heard the word omphalitis I did not know what it is. Only when I googled about it did I come to know it is the infection of the belly button.
What causes omphalitis:
The root cause of omphalitis has been zeroed down to the exposure of the baby to bacteria like tetanus, staph and streptococcus. A baby may be exposed to these bacteria when the umbilical cord is cut. However, with good help and care, this infection may never happen.
How can omphalitis be recognised:
The first few telltale signs are pus and redness around the belly button. Other symptoms are:
- Swelling in the abdomen
- A foul smell along with a discharge
- Bleeding in and around the umbilical stump
Any of these signs could be an indication of early or late infection.
The treatment requires an administration of antibiotics. In case of a serious infection, surgery may be performed to remove the infected area. Being alert and seeing the doctor on time helps the newborn to bounce back.
Taking care of the umbilical stump:
For an early recovery of the umbilical stump without infection, it should be kept as dry as possible. Also, the following can be done:
- Make sure the area is dried well with a clean towel after a bath
- If you see the stump’s wee and poo, do clean it. The earlier the better. Warm water with baby friendly soap can be used for the same. Do ensure to pat it dry.
- Avoid covering the stump with the cloth nappy
- Opt for loose clothing while dressing the baby
While the stump is healing do keep in mind not to put any bandage, creams on it. And it should not be wiped with wipes as these may cause irritation and may delay the healing process.
Good home care can avoid such infection. These are just little things to be kept in mind so that parents can play with a happy baby.
Theme Reveal, A – Autism, B – Bronchiolitis, C – Celiac Disease, D – Dyslexia, E – Eating Disorders, F – Fever, G – GERD, H – Hand Foot And Mouth Disease (HFMD), I – Imaginary Friends, J – Juvenile Arthritis, K – Kawasaki Disease, L – Leukaemia, M – Meningitis, N – Neuroblast