Can i see your navel

Your baby's belly button - what you should know about navel care

Nine months you and your baby were over that umbilical cord connected with each other. A close connection between two single individuals. Over the months, your unborn child has been supplied with all the necessary and vital nutrients via the umbilical cord. You took good care of what you eat and drink because your baby should be fine after all. Now your baby is born and where the umbilical cord once sat, a scar forms in the first few weeks, which is known as the belly button. He will remember your physical connection for a lifetime.

For me as midwife navel care is one of my daily tasks and I am often confronted with questions about the belly button. Therefore, today I would like to give you the most important answers and a few tips on the subject along the way. Because experience has shown that new parents are usually quite unsure when it comes to navel care.

After the birth - the umbilical cord is cut

After the birth, the umbilical cord is cut and usually clamped off with a plastic clamp. This is important because this is the only way to ensure that no germs can penetrate the umbilical cord vessels. This could have fatal consequences for the newborn. So it is an important, hygienic step. The clamp is usually removed after a few days with the help of special, small pliers. Do not worry! The pediatrician or your midwife will do that. You don't need to worry about the umbilical cord. It usually falls off easily and does not cause your baby any pain or discomfort.

Did you know that we humans are the only mammals in which the belly button is so clearly visible?

Umbilical care in the newborn

In the past, people were convinced that very intensive care was necessary, luckily it looks a little different today. The new motto is:

Less is more!

After a few days, the clamp can be removed from the umbilical cord. The remnant of the umbilical cord has then become a short, hard stub. Often it is enough to simply let the navel dry off without taking any measures. But please make sure to protect the navel from urine and stool. Especially in the stool there are germs that could lead to a navel infection. The urine, on the other hand, only softens the navel again.

My midwife tip when changing diapers: fold the diaper like an accordion under your navel.

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Cleansing the belly button

Every now and then the umbilical cord begins to ooze or stink. this is nothing unusual and nothing to worry about. In this case, you can clean it as follows:

  • 1. Wash or disinfect hands.
  • 2. Use 0.9% table salt → you can purchase individual bottles in the pharmacy
  • 3. Put the solution on a cotton swab (Q tip for cleaning ears) or soak gauze in the solution and then gently clean the navel with it.

Sometimes the umbilical cord sticks a little to the skin umbilicus and is already loosened underneath. However, if it sticks to the skin like a kind of plug, carefully loosen the rest and clean the wound area underneath.

I personally like to use Octenisept for cleaning. A water-based disinfectant. I always have it with me in my midwife's case and it doesn't burn. Or I use diluted calendula essence (for example from Wala or Weleda). This tincture is also anti-inflammatory and good against bacteria or fungi. Again, you simply use a small cotton swab or gauze to clean it.

If the navel gets a little bit wet, I recommend using navel powder. I always have it with me when I'm with one Postpartum visit new parents. With this measure you can even accelerate the fall of the umbilical cord a little. Please wait with the first one Baby bath until the umbilical cord has fallen off and the navel has healed well. Otherwise, the remnants of the umbilical cord would soften again while bathing and unnecessarily delay the fall off.


In the past, significantly more was done on the navel. At that time the navel was cleaned with alcohol, masked off and powdered. In addition, the navel was tied around the stomach with a so-called umbilical bandage. That should avoid a possible umbilical hernia.

You will find important information about the umbilical hernia below in the article.

When does the umbilical cord fall off?

A typical question is when the umbilical cord remains (also known as NSR for short, in case you should hear this abbreviation in a conversation) in a newborn. Between the 7th and 14th day after the birth, you can roughly assume that the umbilical cord will fall off. If it goes faster or slower, that's no problem at all. Since the rest does not contain any nerves, you don't have to worry that your child will feel pain while doing it.

In some cases, I have seen the umbilical cord become quite sharp from the clamp. So that this does not damage the sensitive skin, I sometimes even cut the stub to size or wrap it with gauze. If you should do it yourself, please never pull or tear on the rest. Of course, that hurts.

Once the umbilical cord has fallen off, you will see that there is a yellowish discoloration in the area. Depending on how thick the umbilical cord was. Do not worry, there is no pus, there has to be skin growing there first. Every now and then, wound secretion also escapes there. You can usually see this on the inside of the body. Again, you don't need to worry. You clean the bottom of the umbilicus (i.e. the place where the umbilical cord used to be) just as I already described it to you above.

At the end of the wound healing process, a scar has appeared on the base of the umbilicus. We all know them by the well-known term: belly button!

Can you influence the shape of the belly button?

I have often been asked by parents whether it would be possible in any way to influence the shape. No, fortunately that doesn't work.

Over the years I have come across a number of customs relating to the belly button. Among other things, it is common in some cultures to put a coin on the navel to get a nice shape. Quite apart from the fact that the risk of infection increases, it's just nonsensical. The shape of the navel is genetically determined. I always say that every child gets the navel that is intended for them.

Only the genetics and composition of the abdominal muscles have an influence on the shape. We differentiate between these two forms of a navel:

  • navel turned inwards (innie)
  • Outwardly turned navel (Outiee), which occurs rather rarely

When do I have to see a doctor with my navel?

If the navel is reddened or looks inflamed, please see a doctor or ask your midwife immediately. The same applies if the navel should smell very strongly. This could be an indication of inflammation or navel infection that needs treatment.

Even if the navel is wet for a longer period of time (after the NSR has dropped), a visit to the pediatrician is recommended because it could be an umbilical granuloma.

What is umbilical granuloma?

If the umbilical cord does not fall off completely, a pea-sized growth can form on the belly button. The so-called umbilical granuloma. Typical is the oozing and the overgrowth of the tissue in the navel. The risk of infection is slightly increased due to the weeping tissue. Otherwise it is relatively harmless.

As a midwife, I prefer to treat umbilical granuloma with table salt. I just let a few crumbs of salt trickle down my navel. Usually a few treatments are enough. Pediatricians etch away the overgrown tissue with silver nitrate. Other than turning the navel black, it is not painful for the baby. Just watch out for that sensitive baby skin to protect the navel from the silver nitrate.

What is proper navel care after healing?

After the navel has healed, the belly button still needs to be cleaned and cared for well. Most people have an inwardly curved umbilicus. This favors a moist, warm environment, for example through sweating. This in turn naturally means that bacteria and fungi have the perfect conditions to grow. You can prevent this by regularly cleaning your belly button with clear water and always drying it well.

Umbilical hernia - what it is and what you need to know about it

If we deal with the topic of the navel, then of course it still has to be clarified what an umbilical hernia is. Because you may also be confronted with this. Such an umbilical hernia occurs in 5-10% of children within the first year of life and usually resolves itself by the first birthday. In general, the break is rather harmless. An operation is really only very rarely necessary.

How do I recognize an umbilical hernia?

You can recognize an umbilical hernia by the fact that there is a soft swelling in the area of ​​the umbilicus that you can see clearly. The umbilical hernia describes the bulging of the innermost layer of the abdominal wall, the peritoneum, through a gap in the muscles around the navel. Since babies do not yet have developed abdominal muscles, there is an increased risk that the tissue of the peritoneum will push through this gap at the point where the umbilical cord once passed into the abdomen.

If your baby starts to cry, you will probably notice that the umbilical hernia becomes a little bigger and also hard. If your baby is relaxed, the protrusion is smaller and can be pushed back with gentle pressure.

What are the causes of an umbilical hernia?

An umbilical hernia usually occurs because the abdominal muscles are not yet strong and the tissue around the navel is too soft. The risk group for the umbilical hernia mainly includes premature babies. They are affected much more often than babies who see the light of day more or less punctually. Umbilical hernias can also be observed much more frequently in children of African origin. Why this is so is largely unclear.

Another cause of the umbilical hernia can be strong pressing or long and persistent screaming. When babies cry, pressure is created in the abdomen, which means that the umbilical hernia can become larger.

In the 1970s and 1980s, babies were treated a little differently than they are today. Back then, significantly more babies had umbilical hernias than now. It was because of the way young mothers were taught to let a baby cry. You are probably familiar with some of these statements. Possibly even from your own family circle:

"Just let the baby scream. It doesn't do any harm! ”,“ At least your lungs will be strong. ”,“ Don't always pick it up when it screams. You spoil it too much "

Fortunately, today we know that it is utter nonsense to let a baby cry for a long time for no reason. Everything has become more loving and parents accompany the baby to sleep instead of letting it cry for a long time.

Can an umbilical hernia be dangerous?

In rare cases, other internal organs (usually the intestine) push their way through the umbilical hernia fissure. Quick action is required here. Because this can be dangerous if these organs are pinched and should be operated on immediately. If you feel that your baby is in pain at the umbilical hernia, the hernia has quickly grown or has turned bluish, see your pediatrician immediately.


The bond between mother and child is something that is difficult to describe in words. The intimate connection via the umbilical cord not only took care of the child in the womb, but also created a bond that lasts a lifetime.

Today you learned how to deal with the umbilical cord and what you need to consider in order to properly care for your belly button. I hope that I have answered all the important questions and I wish you a wonderful time with your baby.