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5 Big New-Mom Decisions

The foggy first weeks of motherhood are full of joy -- and confusion! Omaha pediatrician Laura Jana, M.D., coauthor of Heading Home With Your Newborn, helps you sort it all out. Relax and read on.


Cleaning the umbilical-cord site used to mean applying rubbing alcohol at each diaper change. Fortunately, that's no longer necessary (so don't listen to grandma!). Recent research has shown that doing nothing is perfectly fine. The stump will fall off just as fast, usually in seven to ten days; there's also a smaller chance of infection with dry cord care. To reduce chafing, turn down the top part of your baby's diaper or use ones made with a cutout to accommodate the stump. And be sure to call your pediatrician if you notice any signs of infection, such as pus, odor, or a ring of redness around the stump. When it does drop off, wash the area with some baby cleanser. If there's any bleeding, dab a small amount of rubbing alcohol or antibiotic ointment on the site.


If you opted to have this procedure done, you'll need to keep the penis clean while it heals. Apply a bit of petroleum jelly on the tip each time you change your little guy to prevent the circumcision site from sticking to his diaper. His penis will be red and you may see yellowish secretions (both are normal); it'll heal in about a week. If it takes longer, or you notice swelling, sores, or bleeding, call your pediatrician. Skipped circumcision? Your only task is to keep the tip of his penis and the foreskin ridge clean (but don't attempt to pull the foreskin back farther than it will easily go -- it'll retract on its own eventually).