Apart from pausing to pick out the odd bit of fluff, few of us give our belly buttons much thought. But once you have a baby, that little mound of flesh takes on a whole new significance. After all, it’s a reminder of the cord that once joined you to your mother, delivering nutrients from her body to yours – and now your baby has the exact same mark.
Of course it won’t look quite so neat after the birth. Once the cord has been cut (something your partner may wish to do), it will be clamped off, leaving a stump. Your midwife will remove the clamp a couple of days later, after which time the stump will scab over, turn black, and fall off. This can take anything from a few days to a couple of weeks. The result is a beautifully healed belly button – although whether it’s an ‘innie’ or an ‘outie’ will be anyone’s guess!
How to take care of your baby’s belly button
- Leave it alone: unless it becomes infected, the only thing you have to do is keep the umbilical cord dry. If it starts to look a little sore, you can gently cleanse it with a cotton wool ball and some warm water, but make sure you dry it thoroughly afterwards.
- Prevent rubbing: until the stump dries up and falls off, keep your baby’s nappy away from her belly button by folding it down at the top so it doesn’t irritate her skin. With boys, it’s a good idea to make sure his penis is pointing downwards in his nappy so urine doesn’t seep onto the stump.
- Lay off the baths: as the cord needs to be kept dry in order to heal, it’s probably best not to give your baby a full bath until the stump has fallen off.
If you notice a red ring around your baby’s belly button or it starts to smell unpleasant, it may be infected. If this is the case, you’ll need to see your GP without delay.