Is It OK if My Newborn Baby's Belly Button Is Bleeding?

A baby's belly button may bleed a little in the days following birth. A few spots of blood is usually okay. However, if your baby's belly button keeps bleeding weeks after birth, bleeds heavily or shows signs of inflammation, then it may indicate another condition. In these circumstances call your doctor as soon as possible. Left untreated, an open wound or belly button can lead to infection in your baby.

Newborn baby wrapped in a blanket Credit: Design Pics/Design Pics/Getty Images

Belly Button

The belly button forms when the remnants of the umbilical cord wither away and the area heals shut. For the first few days a little stump remains on the belly button. As this drops off, it might leave a slight trace of blood, according to Rush University Medical Center. This shouldn't last too long though. Try dabbing a clean piece of cotton gauze onto the area. If the blood keeps flowing or doesn't clot and heal, then it's likely that your baby has a related condition.

Hemorrhagic Disease

Hemorrhagic disease of the newborn happens when a baby has a deficiency of vitamin K. All babies tend to have low vitamin K levels, but some have extremely low amounts. Doctors often give babies a vitamin K shot soon after birth. This is because vitamin K helps in the process of blood clotting. Without vitamin K, blood keeps flowing from any skin wounds. Bleeding around the belly button area is one of the most common symptoms of hemorrhagic disease, according to Drexel University College of Medicine.

Problems

It takes a few days to get used to putting a diaper on your newborn baby. Until you master the technique you may put the diaper band too high on the baby's body. When too high the band rubs against the sensitive belly button, possibly triggering bleeding. Similarly, accidentally rubbing or knocking the umbilical stump might cause bleeding for a short time. This should stop after several minutes. If the skin tears or the baby is in real pain, visit the emergency room.

Considerations

Some doctors used to suggest using a cotton pad dipped in pure alcohol to help sterilize the belly button stump. However, as of date of publication this recommendation has been phased out, according to Dr. William Sears. Not only is it not needed to heal the area, but using alcohol also makes your baby uncomfortable or even sore from the sharpness of the liquid. Use clean pieces of gauze to remove blood spots when they appear.

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