This post should not be taken in place of medical advise; please consult a doctor if any signs of infection occur.
Umbilical cord care has come a long way. Parents have been instructed to wash it many times a day, keep it covered with a bandaid, or even to wash with alcohol. None of these methods seem very natural, however, and some of them are harsh on newborn baby skin. What’s a momma to do?
By far, the best and easiest method of umbilical cord care is The LITHA method. Leave it the hell alone. Borrowing the terminology from the piercing community, the LITHA method just means leaving the umbilical stump alone. No fancy tonics, no oil blends, nothing. Just fresh air.
Simply keep the area clean and dry. Fold down diapers and avoid clothing that will snag on the stump. Babies aren’t born dirty, so there is no need for a bath in the first couple of days. If baby does get dirty, give baby a sponge bath or run a warm, wet washcloth on baby, making sure to dry off the area when done. If the weather is warm, consider letting baby be naked – no clothing to snag the stump on and skin to skin is great for bonding and breastfeeding. The cord stump will fall off in a few days to a few weeks. (Active bleeding or signs of infection? Consult your doctor).
One thing I see being recommended by many bloggers and mamas is the use of essential oils on the umbilical stump – particularly frankincense. Essential oils are powerful and can aid in the healing of the body. They are however, quite potent – after all, they are literally the oil pressed or steamed out of something. For this reason, newborn skin and essential oils shouldn’t mix. Newborn skin is way too delicate to handle essential oils – No matter how pure or theraputic a particular brand is.
Newborn babies immune systems are underdeveloped. Some essential oils may stress a baby’s system – something we don’t want to do in their first few hours or days of life. Some babies may be allergic or have skin sensitivities – not something you want to deal with in their first few days of life. Newborn babies also highly rely on their sense of smell to recognize their parents – particularly their mama. Applying essential oils can interfere and overpower this sense.
Do yourself and your baby a favor and just leave the umbilical cord stump alone. It’s the most natural way to care for your baby.