Should You Worry If Baby's Umbilical Cord Smells?

The umbilical cord helps transport nutrients from your body to your baby during pregnancy. Even after delivery, your baby will have an inch long purplish-blue stump, which is going to take some time to fall off. In most cases, the stump dries up completely within a couple of weeks. It is, however, important to take some care while the stump is drying up or else it may lead to an infection. You should always pay attention to all signs of infections, and there may be something wrong if the umbilical cord smells bad. Should you talk to your doctor about it?

Is It Normal?

Before you start to worry and think that your baby has developed an infection, you need to understand that it is normal for the cord to smell a bit when it shrivels and prepares to detach. You need to realize that the umbilical cord is nothing but a piece of flesh, so it is normal for it to smell bad when it no longer has any supply of blood. However, it usually starts to smell bad when it is about to fall off in a few days. You may want to talk to your doctor if you suspect something wrong.

Here is a bit more about what others moms say about the issue:

"My son's cord started to smell bad after a week. The cord fell off in 3 days after I noticed the smell. I used an al. wipe and it worked just fine."

"From my experience, I can easily say that umbilical cord smells bad just about a couple of days before falling off. That was what happened in my case. I noticed it become very slimy as if there was puss in it but the next morning it was gone. It is rotting flesh, so it has to smell. No need to worry really!"

"Brain's smelt quite bad; in fact, it was just awful when the midwife did his heel prick test. She used sterile wipe to clean it a bit. She also said that it was fine to give him a bath in normal tap water. It has already fallen off and I am very happy about it."

When to Worry

You may have gathered the fact that you do not need to worry if the umbilical cord smells a bit, but there are situations when it is better to go see your healthcare provider. For instance, you should take your little one to your doctor if the umbilical cord has a strong smell and the area looks red or swollen. Seek immediate medical attention if you also notice any discharge from the base of the stump. Here are some other signs that indicate complications:

  • Take your baby to a doctor if he/she has a fever. It usually means that his/her body is trying to find an infection.
  • Go talk to your doctor if the cord smells bad and your baby becomes lethargic. It might as well indicate an infection.

It is always better to discuss your concerns with your doctor instead of waiting and hoping for things to get better. They might prescribe an antibiotic in case there is an infection.

Tips to Follow When Caring the Umbilical Cord

There is nothing to worry when the umbilical cord smells a bit, but you should take precautionary measures to keep infections at bay. Here are some tips to help prevent complications:

1. Clean the Area

It is important to keep the area clean all the time. It is worth mentioning that some moms use rubbing alcohol to clean the area, but that is not the right thing to do. Your best option is to leave the cord alone. Using alcohol would irritate the skin and might actually delay healing. You can, however, use Goldenseal Root and Echinacea to promote healing. Be sure to discuss your concerns with your doctor and always consider their recommendations.

2. Dry the Area

You should never let the area become moist or else you will end up dealing with an infection. It is important to expose the cord to fresh air – this will ensure that the base of the cord dries up quickly. You can also use newborn diapers with a special cut out to avoid irritating the cord. In most cases, it is better to dress your baby in comfortable clothes – it could just be a shirt and diaper, but do it only if weather permits.

3. Go for Sponge Baths

While the umbilical cord is still drying up, you should stay limited to sponge baths only. If you give your baby a complete bath, it is important to ensure that you dry the area around the cord properly. Never try to rub the area to keep it dry or it will irritate the area and cause problems.

4. Leave the Cord Alone

It is better to avoid home remedies to accelerate healing. While you may want to try ways to ensure the cord dries out quickly, it is better to resist the temptation as much as possible. Also, it may seem that the cord is attached by a thread only, but under no circumstances should you be trying to detach it. It will fall off naturally once it is ready, so never try to pull the cord off. 

 
 
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