What to do for the baby
Care for the cord
To prevent the stump of the baby’s cord from
getting infected, it should be kept clean and dry.
Show the family how to care for it.
• Always wash your hands before touching
• If the cord becomes dirty or has a lot of
dried blood on it, clean it with soap and
boiled (then cooled) water, medical
alcohol, strong drinking alcohol, or with
gentian violet. Be gentle with the cord.
If you clean the cord,
• Do not put anything else on the cord — dirt and dung are especially
• If there are a lot of flies where you live, you may cover the cord stump with a
clean dry cloth. But usually you should leave it uncovered.
The cord stump usually falls off 5 to 7 days after the birth. There may be a few
drops of blood or smooth mucus when the cord falls off. This is normal. But if
there is a lot of blood or any pus, get medical help.
Look for signs of infection
Wa r nin g s ig n s
• The baby seems very weak or tired,
or stops breastfeeding.
• The baby has diarrhea.
• The baby cannot keep warm, even when
wrapped in blankets.
• The baby has a fever above 38°C (100.4°F).
• The baby has a weak, fast heartbeat.
• The baby breathes with difficulty, and more than
60 breaths a minute.
• The baby seems ill.
Infection in a baby is most often caused by germs getting
into the cord stump. When the cord is infected, the area
around the cord usually becomes red, drains pus, feels hot, or smells bad. If signs
are mild, start by cleaning and putting gentian violet on 2 times a day. If it does
not improve or gets worse after 1 or 2 days, give the medicines in the box on page
279 or get medical help.
A Book for Midwives (2010)