Umbilical Cord Care: An In-Depth Guide

Umbilical Cord Care: An In-Depth Guide


Quick Answer: What is an umbilical cord?


The umbilical cord is the reason why you have a belly button. Once the baby is born, the umbilical cord is cut off, and it is referred to as an umbilical cord stump. 


In case you might be asking yourself why umbilical cord care is essential:


A belly button is formed when the umbilical cord stump dries and withers off. This can occur in a time frame of five to fifteen days (two weeks) and is a painless process. In simple words, the umbilical cord stump is the transition phase of the in-utero umbilical cord to a belly button. 


This transitory phase is sensitive and requires complete attention from the parents. If not taken care of, severe infections can occur, posing a grave threat to your baby’s health. 


In this blog post, we will help you learn how to take care of your baby’s umbilical cord stump, the dos and don’ts, and some relevant information about the umbilical cord. 


Umbilical Cord — An Overview:


Before discussing any further about umbilical cord care, it would be better to learn a little about umbilical cord’s anatomy and physiology.


Anatomy


An umbilical cord is a tube-like organ that connects the developing embryo (the medical term for baby) to the mother, specifically the placenta. It comprises the vitelline duct, connecting stalk and umbilical vessels (i.e. umbilical arteries and veins).


The umbilical cord starts forming in the 3rd week following conception and is fully matured by the 7th week.


Physiology


The umbilical arteries are responsible for carrying away the toxic substances away from the baby, while the umbilical veins bring nutritious substances from the mother to the baby.


Hence it is understood that the umbilical cord is the medium through which the baby receives its nutrients. It is an essential organ in terms of maintaining homeostasis as well, as it allows the baby to get rid of waste products.  


Is clamping the umbilical cord painful?


No, it’s not. As stated above, the umbilical cord only contains arteries and veins – not nerves. Nerves are responsible for causing pain. So if there wouldn’t be any nerves, neither the mother nor the baby can feel any pain.


Umbilical Cord Management

 

Treatment of newborn baby navel with a cotton swab

 

Keep in mind that the umbilical cord can be infected if proper guidelines are not followed. This can either occur immediately after the cord is clamped or a few days later.


Immediate Management


After the baby is delivered, it is ideal to wait for about one-three minutes before clamping the cord. That is because about 80 ml of blood will be transferred from the placenta to the baby before the cord pulsations cease, reducing the chances of the baby developing iron deficiency and neonatal anaemia.


Long-Term Management


Now, after the cord has been clamped and you’re finally home after delivering the baby, how should you care for the umbilical cord stump? What are the dos and don’ts when it comes to tending the umbilical cord stump?


In case you’re wondering, the following are a few things that you must pay heed to in order to ensure a healthy umbilical cord stump before it finally falls off.


1. Keep The Stump Dry At All Times


It would be favourable to keep the umbilical cord stump dry as it allows the stump to heal faster and fall off quickly. Likewise, it is essential to regularly change the diaper so that the stump doesn’t stay wet for too long. In order to do this, it is advised to wrap the diaper underneath the cord stump because it doesn’t allow that area to get moist or wet.


2. Clean The Umbilical Stump Daily


It is advised that the parents clean the area with clean water and dry it out whenever they change their baby’s diaper. However, it would be better to use an alcohol swab for proper cleaning in areas with high infection rates. This is because the alcohol kills the bacteria and keeps the umbilical cord stump free of harmful microorganisms.


3. Don’t Dress Your Baby In Tight Clothing


Apart from keeping the stump clean, it is crucial to keep it dry as well. If you start dressing your baby in tight clothing, it will only allow the rapid build-up of moisture, possibly leading to infection sooner or later.


4. Allow The Stump To Fall Off On Its Own


As mentioned above, the stump takes its own sweet time (i.e. at least two weeks) to fall off. Therefore, be patient and don’t try to pull out the umbilical cord stump. 


4. Sponge Baths Are Your Best Friend


It is easier to protect the cord stump from getting wet if you’re giving your baby a sponge bath. Therefore, it is recommended to clean your babies by giving them a sponge bath for about two weeks.


How To Find Out If The Cord Is Infected?

 

a newborn baby

 

Now, suppose you don’t look after the umbilical cord stump keenly or reside in areas with high infection rates. In that case, there are high chances of your baby’s cord stump getting infected.


When the umbilical cord stump is close to falling off, a little blood might be seen in the area, but it’s nothing serious. However, the following signs can indicate an umbilical cord infection:


  1. Pus oozing out of the umbilical cord stump.
  2. Swollen umbilical area.
  3. The belly button region takes the form of a pink bump.
  4. The baby develops a fever.
  5. Your baby cries when you touch the umbilical cord stump.

If you come across any two or three of these symptoms, it is advised to seek medical help immediately. Don’t try to clean it on your own; just refer to a paediatrician, and he/she will guide you through.


Conclusion


This in-depth guide will help you understand the functioning and importance of the umbilical cord and how you can care for the umbilical cord stump.

Be patient with the umbilical cord stump, say no to tight clothing and keep the stump dry – you and your baby will get rid of it in no time!

 

5 Benefits Of Tracking Your Menstrual Cycle

5 Benefits Of Tracking Your Menstrual Cycle


Being in touch with your body and understanding the different hormones involved in menstruation can help you navigate your monthly cycle and patterns in mood changes better.


Moreover, understanding your period can tell you more about yourself than you might imagine. According to the FemX Chairwoman and founder Sabeen Almas, below are some surprising benefits of keeping track of your period:


1. Being Alerted To Potential Problems


Do you have missed periods, abdominal pain, heavy bleeding or any other issue you may need to have checked out? 


This certainly is not the case for everyone, but tracking your period can help determine whether any physical distress or pain might be linked to your menstrual cycle.


P.S: If you are concerned about your menstrual cycle or any changes to it, please contact your GP or healthcare provider. You can also use FemX – the world’s only FemTech app offering audio and video consultations with health and wellness coaches, fitness coaches, nutritionists and much more.


2. Learn Your Unique Cycle Length And Patterns


“In the FemX app, you also get a detailed analysis of your cycle history”.


The easiest way to track your cycle is to log when your period happens so that you can understand your average cycle length. Usually, the duration of a menstrual cycle is about 28 days, with most cycle lengths between 25 to 30 days. 


However, everybody is different, and having an unpredictable period is more common than you think. So if you are aware of your cycle, you will feel more in control and less likely to be worried about your next period. 


3. Detect Mood Changes At Different Phases Of Your Cycle


Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle have been suggested to provoke mood changes. Although the exact relation between mood regulation and fluctuating hormones is not entirely understood, we somehow know that there is a connection.


Learning when these changes happen can also help you understand the rhythm of your cycle. When you know the why behind your mood changes or appetite, you can be much better equipped to handle the how.


In the FemX app, you can track when you feel happy, sad, productive, exhausted, or many other emotions and mental states you experience, even beyond PMS.


4. Increased Awareness Of Your Overall Health And Wellness


Periods are your body’s way of assuring that things are working as they should. 


Having a heavy, unpredictable, or skipped period can indicate an existing underlying condition. By tracking various details of your menstrual cycle, you can remember things that you might otherwise forget while talking with your healthcare provider. 


When you use FemX, you always have the dates of your last period at your fingertips.


5. Track Your Fertility


Whether you want to avoid contraception or want to get pregnant, tracking your cycle is a legitimate way of managing your contraceptive preferences.


You can view your most fertile days using your FemX app to help take the stress out of fertility tracking. Usually, the fertile window lies between 12 and 16 days before your period begins, and the least fertile are the days after your period ends.


Wrapping Up


Closely tracking your menstrual cycles and other physical changes regularly has many benefits. Whether you are a woman thinking about getting pregnant, trying to prevent conception, or simply assessing your overall health – cycle tracking will do the work for you. 


So get yourself a good little tool to get to know your body a bit better! 😉

 

 

How To Care For Your Episiotomy Stitches To Prevent Infection

How To Care For Your Episiotomy Stitches To Prevent Infection


An episiotomy is a minor cut or incision made by a doctor in the area between the vagina and perineum to enlarge the vaginal opening and help deliver your baby.


You might need this if your baby has to be born quickly or if forceps are required. And after the baby is delivered, stitches are used to close the incision and assure the best healing. 


Taking care of your episiotomy stitches during your postpartum recovery will minimise the risk of infection and help manage pain. It can take up to a month for your episiotomy to heal and for your stitches to dissolve. However, it’s essential to give your body time to recover and heal.


In this article, we’ll explain the reasons for an episiotomy and how to take care of your post-delivery stitches properly.


So let’s get started!


Reasons For An Episiotomy


Studies show that births without an episiotomy are best for most women in labour. However, there are certain conditions in which the procedure may be necessary.


The most common reasons for an episiotomy are: 


  • If you or your baby is in distress and delivery needs to speed up.
  • If your baby is in a breech position (its rear or feet are coming out first) and there is a complication.
  • If your baby has an irregular heart rate pattern during birth.
  • Instruments, such as forceps or a vacuum, need to be inserted into your vagina to get your baby out.
  • If your baby’s shoulder is stuck behind your pelvic bone (shoulder dystocia).

Stitches Aftercare: How To Minimise The Risk Of Pain And Infection


Episiotomy stitches don’t cause too much of a problem if you properly take care of the wound. After your procedure, wait six weeks before engaging in any activity that might rupture your stitches, including using tampons, having sex, and douching. Also, ensure to visit your doctor regularly and follow their instructions precisely.


Following are some tips that can help speed up your recovery and avoid infections:


Expose Your Stitches To Fresh Air


Exposing the stitches to fresh air can boost the healing process. If you decrease the air circulation around your stitches, you could open the way to those bacteria that like to live undercover.


Take Proper Rest


Resting is an excellent way to recover after delivery and heal your wound. Make sure to avoid excessive work as you recover. Also, ask for help from your family and friends whenever you need it.


Take Care Of Your Personal Hygiene


The bacteria on your hands are enough to cause postpartum complications easily. So after giving birth, it’s essential to stay clean and take good care of your stitches. Maintaining good hygiene will help prevent the area from getting infected. Your doctor may also provide you with an antiseptic that can help keep the perineal area clean.


Use Ice Packs


Putting ice on your stitches can ease inflammation and help heal your wound faster. You should wear ice packs for about 10-20 minutes to alleviate pain from stitches after birth. Keep in mind that ice packs are disposable and should only be used once in order to prevent contamination of the cut area.


Try Stool Softeners


Using a stool softener can make it easier to move your bowels and decrease strain. Apart from preventing straining, they can also relieve pain from the stitched area during postpartum recovery.


You can also do many other things to help speed up the healing process, such as:


  • Avoid tampons for the first six weeks after giving birth.
  • Change your pad every 2-4 hours.
  • Use sitz baths (sit in water that covers your vulvar area) a few times a day. To take a sitz bath, make sure to wait until 24 hours after you have given birth.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen to help alleviate discomfort.

When to Seek Professional Help

 

a woman with her newborn

 

As with all surgical treatments, infection is possible following an episiotomy. Call your doctor if:


  • Your pain gets worse.
  • You go for four (or more) days without a bowel movement.
  • Redness and swelling around the stitches
  • You have a discharge with a foul odour.
  • The wound seems to break open.

If you have any unusual or concerning symptoms or have questions about aftercare, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider.

 

 

Pregnancy Migraines: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Pregnancy Migraines: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

 

When you are pregnant, your body goes through tons of significant changes. Some of them include a rapid increase or decrease in the production of your hormones. Even your blood pressure and sugar levels have to be monitored at least once a day throughout your pregnancy months.

 

It is already too much for a pregnant person to go through the regular changes of pregnancy. To make it even more challenging for them, some women may also experience intense and strong headaches during their pregnancy months. 

 

Such headaches recurring headaches during your pregnancy days are called pregnancy migraines. 

 

In this article, we will discuss what pregnancy migraine really is, its causes, symptoms, and treatment to cope with this problem.

 

So let’s dive in!

 

What Is A Pregnancy Migraine?

 

A pregnancy migraine is an intense sensation of extreme pain on one side of your head that often spreads to the other side. It is caused due to the changes in your nervous system inside your brain. As the blood vessels broaden, causing a headache as a response to this change.

 

It is a recurring pain for an hour and occurs twice a month. Some may have it before getting pregnant, while others may experience it for the first time during their pregnancy months. 

 

During pregnancy, the nervous system of some women may go through changes. So, there is a chance that their migraine is developed during those months. 

 

Can A Person With No Migraine History Get A Migraine Attack?

 

Yes, some women have never experienced migraine attacks before their pregnancy. It only occurred after they got pregnant. 

 

Healthcare workers reported that about 15% to 20% of pregnant women suffer from migraine attacks during pregnancy. But fortunately, almost 80% of the women migraines occurred less in the last months of their pregnancy. 

 

Does It Affect The Baby?

 

Luckily, no effect on the baby has been reported up till now. Only the mother has to go through the episodes of a striking headache.

 

It causes a severe headache from time to time during their months of pregnancy. But it doesn’t harm the baby’s development inside the fetus. It is also reported that mothers felt fewer migraine attacks during the last months of their pregnancy as compared to the initial months. However, it may vary from person to person.

 

What Causes Migraine?

 

Following are the causes that contribute to the occurrence of the migraine among women:

 

  • Foods – Eating nothing or eating aged cheeses, salty and processed foods.
  • Drinks – Include drinks such as coffee, alcohol, wine, or too much caffeine in any drink.
  • Sleep Changes – Getting too much sleep or missing it – irregular sleep pattern.
  • Stress – Any kind of stress can cause migraines.
  • Sensory Stimuli – Strong smells, loud sound, or bright lights can induce migraines
  • Physical Factors – Intense physical exertion might stimulate migraines.
  • Weather Changes – A change in the barometric pressure can provoke a migraine.
  • Hormonal Medications – Oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy (HTA).
  • Food Additives – Sweetener aspartame, preservative monosodium glutamate (MSG).
  • Hormonal Changes – Increase or decrease in the estrogen levels before or during menstrual periods, pregnancy and menopause.

 

Pregnancy Migraine Symptoms

 

woman having pregnany migraine

 

Few symptoms occur before these migraine attacks. Some may become sensitive to the environment or experience sweating chills, a loss of appetite, jerking uncontrollably, or difficulty speaking. The symptoms of a migraine attack may differ depending on the health conditions of the person.

 

Migraine is divided into five stages:

 

  • Premonitory – Warning phase (beginning of physical and mental changes).
  • Aura – Neurological symptoms.
  • Main Attack – Severe and unbearable headache, get worse by any movement. 
  • Resolution – Attacks slowly fade away, and the person either cries or becomes sick.
  • Recovery or Postdrome – Symptoms can be similar to those of the first stage.

 

The aura stage symptoms are further divided into two main types, migraine aura and migraine without aura.

 

Migraine Aura

 

You’ll experience neurological symptoms such as flashing lights, zigzag lines, or temporary vision loss of vision for about 10 to 30 minutes before an aura migraine attack. It will start from one side of the head and spread to the other side of it. You also feel the intense throbbing in the forehead, jaw, ear, temple, or around the eye. This type of attack may last one to two days. 

 

Migraine Without Aura

 

These symptoms are more related to physical conditions such as fatigue, unusual retention of fluids, diarrhoea, increased urination, or nausea and vomiting. However, it also has some mental-related symptoms, such as a craving for sweet foods, tiredness, mood swings, feeling thirsty or a stiff neck. This type of attack lasts for about three to four days.

 

Migraine Treatment During Pregnancy

 

If a migraine hits you, there are two options that you can use for treating the migraine – medication and remedy.

 

Remedies

 

Before taking any medication, you should try the following remedies:

 

  • Hot or cold compresses – Use a compressor to relieve your migraine pain. You can either numb your pain with a cold pack, wrapped in a towel, placed over your head or place a heating pad around your neck to ease tension in muscles.
  • Know your triggers – Eat in regular intervals, stay hydrated, and take proper sleep. You must have to take care of your diet and lifestyle in order to avoid a migraine attack.
  • Stay in the dark – When you become sensitive to the environment due to migraine attacks, a dark and quiet room can be beneficial.

 

Medications

 

Following two drugs are declared by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) safe to use during your pregnancy to recover from migraine attacks:

 

  • Metoclopramide – Treats Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), increases the speed of stomach emptying. Sometimes prescribed for migraine when experiencing nausea.
  • Acetaminophen – Treats minor aches and pains and reduces fever (Generic name of the drug in Tylenol).

 

Aspirin Or Ibuprofen During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

 

No, any medicine containing aspirin or ibuprofen is not recommended to use during your pregnancy months. It may increase the chances of miscarriage, increase bleeding, prolong labour pain, and may also harm the development of your baby’s heart and lungs.

 

The Takeaway

 

Migraines during pregnancy can be excruciating for first-timers. It is connected to your nervous system and blood pressure. Although it doesn’t affect your baby’s development or the baby itself, the medicines to reduce migraine attacks might harm your baby.

 

So, it is highly recommended to consult a doctor before taking any medication for migraine attacks. Plus, try to use home remedies to avoid or overcome the headaches caused by migraine attacks.

 

 

What Are Pregnancy Stretch Marks? Causes, Treatments, and Prevention

What Are Pregnancy Stretch Marks? Causes, Treatments, and Prevention

 

Your body can adapt to massive changes, but that doesn’t mean those changes won’t leave a scar. Stretch marks are a phenomenon widespread among pregnant women. But what are their fundamental causes? Is there any way to treat or even prevent them? 

 

To get you out of this trouble, in this article, we will discuss:

 

  • What are stretch marks?
  • When do stretch marks appear during pregnancy? 
  • What causes stretch marks during pregnancy?
  • How to treat pregnancy stretch marks
  • How to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy 

 

So let’s get straight into it!

 

What Are Stretch Marks?

 

Stretch marks happen when your body expands faster than your skin can keep up with. It causes the elastic fibres just under the skin’s surface to break, resulting in stretch marks.

 

Initially, itchy, thin, and pink in colour, stretch marks typically appear on your skin as bands of parallel lines. From purple to bright pink to light grey, these lines are of various colour and texture than normal skin. They usually appear after a sudden change in your weight or during or after pregnancy.

 

You can have stretch marks just about anyplace, but most commonly, they appear on the stomach, breasts, upper arms, thighs, and buttocks. However, there is some variation in appearance from person to person. 

 

Research shows that women with greater weight gain, higher body mass index before pregnancy, and a larger abdominal circumference are particularly susceptible to stretch marks. Other contributing factors may also include age, family history, and whether you’re carrying twins.

 

Although they influence physical appearance to some extent, stretch marks aren’t dangerous, and they often disappear over time.

 

Are Pregnancy Stretch Marks Permanent?

 

As stretch marks are a form of scarring, they can never be removed from your skin completely. But they have been known to fade over time (about six to 12 months after childbirth), and certain treatments make them less noticeable.

 

The pigmentation fades, and they generally become lighter than the surrounding skin (the colour will vary depending on your skin colour), but their texture will remain the same.

 

When Do Stretch Marks Appear During Pregnancy? 

 

Woman Show off the belly after birth - Stretch Marks

 

Pregnancy stretch marks are common in the abdominal region as the skin in this area undergoes the most dramatic expansion. They will become increasingly noticeable as your baby bump continues to grow.

 

Moreover, pronounced weight gain and skin stretching usually occur in the legs and thighs during pregnancy. That is why stretch marks often appear on the inner and upper thighs and behind the knees.

 

Usually, most pregnant women spot stretch marks when they are somewhere around the sixth or seventh month pregnant (think of stretch marks as modern art for your baby bump). In rare cases, they may present themselves as soon as the pregnant mother’s abdomen starts to grow.

 

Causes Of Stretch Marks During Pregnancy

 

There are various reasons for stretch marks to form while you are carrying your baby. Common causes of skin stretching include:

 

  • Elastin and collagen: These proteins promote and maintain your skin’s resilience and elasticity. Pregnancy alters these proteins, upping your skin’s sensitivity.

 

 

  • Physical stretching: Expansion of the skin and weight changes occur in the second trimester of pregnancy. Since these are sudden changes, the skin around the breasts, abdomen, buttocks, and thighs do not have sufficient time to adjust, leading to a rupturing of the skin’s surface.

 

How To Treat Pregnancy Stretch Marks?

 

pregnant-woman-applies-stretch-marks-cream-her-stomach-stretch-marks-striae-moisturize-skin-during-pregnancy-body-skin-care-pregnancy-maternity

 

Like any scar, stretch marks are permanent, but few products serve as a remedy for stretch marks. However, it’s essential to understand that no single treatment works for everyone, and many products don’t seem to work at all. 

 

Note: Some products contain ingredients, such as retinol, that can harm your baby. So you should not use these products during pregnancy, but only after your body’s fully healed and your doctor gives the green light. 

 

Stretch Mark Creams, Gels, And Lotions:

 

Researchers have studied many creams, lotions, and gels sold to treat stretch marks and have discovered some helpful hacks. If you want to try one of the recommended products to fade stretch marks, make sure to:

 

  1. Use the product on early stretch marks. Treatment seems to have little or no effect on mature stretch marks.
  2. Gently massage the product into your stretch marks to make it more effective.
  3. Apply the product daily and for weeks till you see results.

 

Procedures That Dermatologists Perform:

 

Following are the methods Dermatologists use to make stretch marks less noticeable:

 

  • Laser therapy
  • Radiofrequency
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Ultrasound
  • Chemical peel

 

Make sure to consult a dermatologist. They can tell you if any of the previously mentioned treatments would be suitable for you, given your age, health, and how long you’ve had the stretch marks.

 

Tip To Prevent Stretch Marks

 

stretch marks in pregnancy

 

As mentioned before, pregnancy stretch marks can happen by sudden weight gain and skin expansion. However, by taking certain precautions, you may be able to reduce the effects on your body. Consider doing the following:

 

Apply Natural Creams

 

Creams containing jojoba oil, hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, and shea butter could help prevent pregnancy stretch marks. Use twice a day, starting with the third month of pregnancy.

 

Remember that various products might be required to treat different areas of the body.

 

Stay Hydrated

 

Dehydrated skin is more prone to forming stretch marks. So you have to drink plenty of fluids in order to keep your skin soft, supple, and elastic. 

 

Eat A Balanced Diet

 

Another important thing is to eat a balanced diet. Incorporate oranges, tomatoes, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, and other leafy greens into your meals. Also, make sure your diet includes foods rich in:

 

  • vitamin C
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin E
  • zinc
  • protein

 

By maintaining a healthy and well-balanced diet, you can add those pregnancy pounds at a slower, steadier rate. As a result, it’ll reduce the chances of forming pregnancy stretch marks in the process. 

 

Do Light Exercise

 

Stay active to avoid huge fluctuations in your body weight. Also, regular exercise boosts blood circulation to your skin, making it less vulnerable to damage.

 

Conclusion

 

The development of pregnancy stretch marks may be bothersome, but there are a few steps you can take to prevent and minimise their appearance. But remember to consult your doctor before starting any treatment.