A new survey has found that nearly three-quarters of new parents are nervous about touching or cleaning their babies’ cord stump.
The findings, from a study by nappy makers Huggies, showed that 72% of mums weren’t shown how to care for their baby’s cord before birth. It emerged that new parents often aren’t sure when to clean the cord stump, with some cleaning regularly, some cleaning it at bath time and some not cleaning it at all.
“With new parents spending less time in hospital, and so having less opportunity to learn about the best way to care for their baby’s cord, it’s easy to be caught off guard,” says GP Dr Rob Hicks.
However, new parents should be advised about cord care by their midwives either in hospital or once they’re back at home.
“Midwives advise parents to avoid routine cleaning of the cord and allow the wound to heal and dry naturally, with as little interference as possible. Cleaning should only really be done if the wound becomes contaminated, and just cool boiled water and cotton balls are advisable to use on this delicate area,” said midwifery expert Nikki Khan.
Unfortunately, if parents don’t get the right advice, they can end up doing dangerous practices, such as filling the stump area with salt or honey, rubbing earth on the stump, putting a penny on the cord or cleaning it with pure alcohol, talcum powder or surgical spirit, all of which could be harmful.
On a happier note, the study also revealed some parents get very creative around making a keepsake out of their baby’s umbilical cord, including turning the cord and placenta into pâté and eating it after the birth. Others turned the cord into cufflinks, framed the cord or planted it alongside a tree to mark their newborn’s arrival.