Umbilical Cord and Penis Care
Umbilical cord care:
The umbilical cord will most likely fall off by itself anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks after birth, and you shouldn’t touch or pick the scab-like stump.
- Wash the umbilical cord three to five times a day with plain water or rubbing alcohol, depending on your doctor’s instructions.
- Discharge (which might contain a small amount of blood) is normal, but if oozing is accompanied with a foul odor, redness surrounding the cord, or fever, call your doctor immediately.
The choice to circumcise a penis (that is removing the foreskin that surrounds the head of the penis) is a personal one, often rooted in deep-set religious or cultural norms. If you have it done at the hospital, the OB-GYN will use a metal ring to cut and remove about 5 mm of foreskin that cover the head (glans) of the penis. The procedure takes less than 5 minutes but does cause the child pain and takes some time to heal.
While the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend circumcision for medical benefits, it is still a largely practiced tradition in the United States, often for hygienic reasons. Parents should follow their own beliefs and do what they feel is best for their child.
If you decide to have your little boy circumcised, you can choose to do so right in the hospital in the days after he’s born. However many of the Jewish faith have a mohel – a Jewish man trained in circumcision – perform the procedure in a traditional ceremony within the first two weeks. Either way, this is what you can expect:
- The baby will be placed on his back, often with his arms and legs strapped down to prevent movement.
- A topical anesthetic or numbing injection will be administered to reduce his pain.
- The foreskin will be separated from the glans and the skin is cut from the penis.
- The doctor or mohel has two options in doing this: a specialized clamp that removes the foreskin immediately or a Plastibell Device (a minimally invasive option) which is a clear plastic ring placed on the penis head, designed to fall off within a week.
- During the recovery period, dab petroleum jelly on the penis and cover in sterilized gauze with each diaper change until the site heals, usually in the first couple of days.
- A little oozing and crusting is normal, as is soreness and a small amount of bleeding. Be gentle and let his body heal on its own.
- If there is any unusual swelling, odor or excessive bleeding, call your doctor.
- Avoid submerging the penis in water during this recovery period, which won’t be difficult considering his umbilical cord shouldn’t get wet either (see bathing).
- Once the wound heals, simply wash the penis with soap and water.
- There’s no special care needed for an uncircumcised penis beyond washing the outside with soap and water.
- Until the foreskin is retractable (usually not until puberty), don’t try to clean under it.