Belly Button Discharge
My baby is 7 weeks old, he has a yellow-green discharge from his belly button, he does not have a fever, and there is no red color around it either. If it was urine or bowels draining from his belly button wouldn't he have an odor coming out of it?
“Very concerned mom”
Dear “Very Concerned Mom”,
Typically a newborn’s umbilical cord falls off between 2 to 3 weeks of life. Once the cord falls off the area should heal and dry within a couple of days. A baby's belly button should not have discharge coming out of it after this time. Since your baby is 7 weeks old, the cord should be completely healed and dry. If you notice that your baby’s belly button has a yellow green discharge, it is most likely soiled from your baby’s bowel movement or dirty diaper. It is very common for babies to have a large bowel movement that fills the diaper and dirties the belly button area. The stool that comes out of the baby’s bottom many times seeps around to the front of the diaper and sticks to belly button. The color and consistency of a newborn’s bowel movement is typically yellow-green and sticky. If a baby is breastfed this stool should not have an odor.
The first thing you should do is give your baby a bath with warm soapy water. The bath should wash away any stool that may be stuck in the belly button. Sometimes you may need to use a Q-tip and gently wipe the belly button area to clean away the stool. After the baby is clean and dry, recheck the site to see if the discharge returns.
Signs of “Omphalitis” or a belly button infection include redness and warmth of the skin around the belly button area, fever, irritability and a discharge from the belly button that has a foul odor. (1,2) If your baby develops any of these signs it would be important to have him checked by his Pediatrician. It would also be important to have your baby checked by his Pediatrician if after cleaning your baby there is still discharge oozing out of the belly button. Your Pediatrician can take a sample of the discharge if necessary in order to determine if the discharge is due to an infection.
In regards to your question about urine or bowel contents draining from your baby’s belly button, this is not very likely. If your baby had a condition where there was a communication between the belly button and the bowel or bladder, it would have been identified at birth or shortly after during one of his routine well child physical examinations. In addition, conditions such as these are very rare. In some cases there may be a cyst in the area that can drain. Chronic discharge from the umbilical area may be a sign of a draining omphalomesenteric cyst or urachal cyst; but then again these conditions are also very rare.(1,2) If your baby has had chronic discharge it would be important to tell your Pediatrician about it. Other concerning signs include a baby with a fever, abdominal distention, difficulty feeding, vomiting or irritability. If any of these signs occur you should bring your baby into the Pediatrician’s office for an evaluation.
Having a newborn baby is a very exciting and a very scary experience. Because the baby’s body looks so different from ours and it is constantly growing and changing, it is very common to become alarmed when we see something different. Sometimes a look “from a second pair of eyes”; from a person with experience with babies is all that we need to reassure ourselves that everything is okay. Other times, a parent knows their child and instinctively feels that something is wrong. My recommendation is to never be afraid to have your baby checked if you are uncomfortable with something or if you feel that there is something wrong. I can’t tell you how many times a parent came in to the office with questions about their newborn and were embarrassed when there was nothing wrong. No new parent is expected to know everything and there is never a reason to be embarrassed when it comes to the health of your child.
I hope everything goes well and you enjoy your new baby.
(1) Betz C, Hunsberger M, Wright S. Family-Centered Nursing Care of Children. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA:W.B.Saunders Company. 1994:497.
(2) Behrman R, Kliegman R. Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics. Philadelphia ,PA: W.B.Saunders Company. 1990:173.
Lisa-ann Kelly R.N., P.N.P.,C.
Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Pediatric Advice About Caring for your Newborn