5.4.1 Clean childbirth and cord care
Principles of cleanliness are essential in both home and health post childbirth to prevent infection to the mother and baby. These are:
- Clean your hands
- Clean the mother’s perineum
- Nothing unclean introduced vaginally
- Clean delivery surface
- Cleanliness in cord clamping and cutting.
The stump of the umbilical cord must be kept clean and dry to prevent infection. Wash it with soap and clean water only if it is soiled. Remember:
- Do not apply dressings or substances of any kind
- If the cord bleeds, re-tie it.
It usually falls off 4–7 days after birth, but until this happens, place the cord outside the nappy to prevent contamination with urine/faeces.
Do not put dirt or dung on the cord stump! Dirt and dung do not protect the stump — they cause serious infections.