Tuesday 13 September 2011

Tips for parents about umbilical cord care from midwifery expert Nikki Khan

As a mum-of-3, I can deal with most things that motherhood can throw at me - projectile vomiting, curdled milk sick in my hair, viscous black meconium poo, nosebleeds and gashed knees ... - but I have to admit, one thing that always made me feel icky and vaguely scared was the leathery, black umbilical cord stump waiting to fall off. Research commissioned by Huggies has revealed that 72% of mums were not shown how to care for their baby’s cord before the birth and were confused about how best to tend to it, so I thought I'd share this useful advice (and interesting survey findings) with you. 


Caring for Babies: Umbilical Cord Care

Becoming a Mum is a tough job. With a new tiny life in your hands, every step along the way can be overwhelming, whether it's the first feed, the first nappy change, or caring for the umbilical cord. With parents generally spending less time in hospital, knowing what to do when you get home with your newborn can be confusing.

New research from Huggies shows nearly three quarters of Mums (72%) weren't given advice before their baby was born about how best to look after the umbilical cord and as a result say they were left confused about how to tend to it. More than two thirds were nervous about touching or cleaning it, and a third were surprised by how fragile it was.

In this video midwifery expert Nikki Khan provides tips for caring for the umbilical cord.

For further information on cord care visit http://www.cordcare.com/


Research commissioned by Huggies and carried out by leading parenting website Mumsnet has revealed a long list of unusual practices when it comes to caring for and keeping newborn babies’ umbilical cords.

Findings revealed everything from filling the wound with salt or honey and rubbing earth on the cord to more traditional but outdated methods such as putting a penny on the cord or cleaning it with pure alcohol, talcum powder or surgical spirit.

The survey of over 1,000 parents also flagged up some unusual things to do with the cord, including turning it into cufflinks, putting it in a frame and planting it alongside a tree to mark the baby’s birth. Some mums also reported having heard of parents who turned the cord and placenta into pâté and ate it after the birth.

The survey found that 72% of mums were not shown how to care for their baby’s cord before the birth and were confused about how best to tend to it. Some parents reported cleaning the cord wound regularly, some cleaning it at bath time and some not cleaning it at all. Almost 70% of parents surveyed said they felt nervous when touching or cleaning the cord wound and one third were surprised by its fragility.

The research was commissioned by Huggies® which has recently introduced the Umbilical Cord Cut Out newborn size one nappy, designed to avoid interference with babies’ belly buttons as they heal. After speaking with new parents Huggies® recognised a lack of information available to mums about caring for the cord and so set up http://www.cordcare.com/ , a website which provides all the need-to-know information on cord care, as well as top tips from midwifery expert Nikki Khan.

Nikki, who is working with Huggies®, said: “It’s very interesting that so many parents are obviously confused about how to care for their baby’s cord in those very early days. The advice has changed over the years and many mums will hear various different bits of advice from friends and family, so it’s no wonder that parents are unsure.

“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.

“The http://www.cordcare.com/ website is a great resource for expectant or new mums who are looking for guidance or have any concerns.”

The survey also showed that the vast majority of mums use the ‘roll down’ method on nappies, to avoid interference with the cord, and this is why Huggies® have introduced the cut out to their size 1 nappies to help make changing easier for mum whilst the cord is still present.

Media GP Dr Rob Hicks said: “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. Although generally speaking cord care is straightforward, there are times when the area can become infected. Nappies with a cut-out area and the advice given on cordcare.com should make it easier for parents to spot when problems may be arising.”

Carrie Longton, co-founder of Mumsnet, said: “The results of the Huggies commissioned work were very interesting indeed. Bringing home a new arrival is always a wonderful but hectic time for new parents, so having advice available which will make cord care as simple and stress-free as possible is excellent. It will allow parents to focus on the important parts of looking after a newborn, like sleeping and feeding.”

Huggies® Newborn UCC nappies will be available in stage one size. Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of £3.72

For further information on cord care visit http://www.cordcare.com/

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  1. Thanks for this, this is extremely helpful to someone like me whos due in November and its my first baby!! Eek, thanks again :) xo

  2. this is a really interesting post, as i think a lot of parents dont know what happens to the cord. I wasnt shown how to care for it, just left to deal with it on my own so i def think parents should be advised on how to care for it x

  3. Wish I'd had this advice before my little one was born! Will def keep in mind for the next one thou ;-)




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