Newborn Belly Button Bleeding – Causes and Caring Tips
The umbilical cord is very important since it helps provide the fetus with nutrients from the mother. Post the infant’s birth, the umbilical cord is no longer needed to provide nutrients and the cord is clipped and cut by the doctor. However, a small part of the cord would still be present on the abdomen of the baby; this is called the umbilical stump. The stump usually comes off on its own and it may cause the belly button to bleed. You must have read articles with titles like “My baby’s cord fell off but still bleeding” or “Newborn belly button bleeding” but if you still do not know what it means, read on to find out more about it.
What Is Considered As a Normal Umbilical Cord Bleeding?
When the umbilical cord falls off, it is normal to see blood from the belly button of your newborn. This newborn belly button blood can be seen right after the cord falls off or can happen a week later. This is more likely to happen when the cord falls off early because it was accidentally tugged or pulled. You will mostly notice this when you see a small amount of blood on the diaper or the baby’s t-shirt.
It is also normal to see a small amount of discharge when the cord falls off. This would often be green or yellow in colour and may look like pus. But, this is only mucus and it is not a sign of infection. You may see this also on the diaper or t-shirt for up to two weeks after the umbilical cord falls off.
Therefore, both a small amount of yellow or green discharge and a small amount of blood is normal; this is nothing to worry about.
Causes of Baby Belly Button Bleeding
Most cases of blood in newborn’s belly button are natural. Your baby’s belly button may bleed when:
- The umbilical cord of the baby begins to separate from the body. At this point, you may notice some blood.
- When things like a piece of cloth or a diaper rub against the umbilical cord, it can irritate the belly button area and cause bleeding.
What You Must Avoid Doing While the Stump Is Healing?
When the stump is healing, it is best to avoid:
1. Covering the stump area with a diaper
It is best to avoid covering that area with a diaper since the diaper could rub and irritate those parts. Most diapers you get for newborns usually cut lower at the front, so that the belly button area is not covered. However, if this is not the case with the diaper you have, then fold the diaper down at the front so that the diaper does not touch and irritate the belly button area or its surroundings.
2. Tying anything over the cord
Tying anything around or over the area of the cord could prevent it from drying. It could also injure the baby.
3. Rubbing alcohol
It is best to avoid rubbing alcohol on the stump since it could delay the cord from healing or drying out. Most doctors would not suggest applying alcohol to this area unless there are other reasons where the use of alcohol is necessary.
4. Excessive touching
Minimize touching the cord stump to prevent introducing germs and irritating the area.
When the baby’s umbilical cord is bleeding, take a sterilized gauze pad and hold it to the cord while applying gentle pressure – this is usually what most healthcare providers would recommend, as this will usually stop the blood. However, if the umbilical cord keeps bleeding even after you apply pressure, then contact your healthcare provider and seek treatment without delay.
The main goal is to keep the umbilical cord area dry and clean until it falls off on its own. The cord does not have a nerve ending, so when it does fall off or when you clean it, your baby would not feel discomfort or pain. To practice umbilical cord care, you could follow the instructions given below:
- Until the cord falls off, do not put the baby into the bathwater. Instead, use a damp washcloth or a sponge to bathe your baby.
- To prevent stool or urine from reaching the cord, change your baby’s diaper more often
- If you find dirt around the area of the baby’s cord, clean the area with a baby wipe or use mild soap and water
- Make sure the diaper does not touch the cord.
- The cord stays dry when exposed to air. Therefore, do not put anything tight (like a band) around the cord.
- Allow the cord to come off on its own. Trying to remove the stump before it is ready to fall off on its own could cause bleeding and pain, and may lead to an infection.
- Observe for signs of infection.
When to Worry About Baby’s Umbilical Bleeding?
If you find it very hard to stop the belly button bleeding of newborn’s umbilical cord or if you observe more than a few drops of blood, then it may be time to contact a healthcare provider since it could be a sign of infection.
Other signs of infection you may see with the bleeding are given below:
- The belly button may feel a bit warmer when compared to the temperature of the surrounding skin.
- The skin around the baby’s belly button is very red.
- There are blisters, pimples, or rashes around the navel.
- There is pus-like or cloudy drainage around the area of the belly button. Sometimes, this may be accompanied by a foul smell. However, some odour and discharge are normal while the umbilical cord is separating.
- Your baby has a fever of over 100.4°F.
- When touching the belly button, your baby seems to be in pain or feels uncomfortable.
- The cord does not fall off within the timeframe given by the baby’s doctor.
- The baby appears to have other symptoms or appears to be ill.
1. How Long Does the Belly Button Bleed After the Umbilical Cord Falls Off?
Newborn umbilical cord bleeding should only be minimal and usually stops within a day or two. If bleeding persists or increases, consult a healthcare provider for advice.
Infection during the healing process of the umbilical cord is very rare, though it can happen. There is nothing to fret about if your newborn’s belly button is bleeding after stump fell off, as it can be treated at home. However, if you notice pus, swelling or excess amount of blood, then it is best to contact your healthcare provider immediately.
1. Umbilical cord care in newborns; medlineplus.gov; https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001926.htm
2. Umbilical Cord Symptoms; seattlechildrens.org; https://www.seattlechildrens.org/conditions/a-z/umbilical-cord-symptoms/
3. Umbilical cord care: Do’s and don’ts for parents; mayoclinic.org; https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/umbilical-cord/art-20048250
4. Umbilical cord care in newborns; mountsinai.org; https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/special-topic/umbilical-cord-care-in-newborns
5. Umbilical cord care; pregnancybirthbaby.org.au; https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/umbilical-care