Every now and then we talk about how important hygiene is. As a new & informed mother, I thought I knew everything about cleaning a baby: you can clean your baby’s genitals when changing their nappy/diapers and at bath times. For a boy, hold the skin and pour water for cleaning... but what I didn't know was that the foreskin should go back a little, I wouldn't have known until one day my son said he is feeling pain down there and I saw there was some white discharge (which as per the books was harmless) but it smelt bad and as all mothers I knew it was a bad sign... you know mother's instincts!
So we went to our family surgeon... he told it was a common issue, especially with first time mothers and usually elderly know about this. Unfortunately, neither my mother nor MIL knew about this! So I made this post for all mothers out there!
Cleaning your son’s penis
1. If your baby boy is circumcised
If your son is circumcised, gently wash your baby’s penis and scrotum with warm water and a cotton ball. Lightly pat your baby’s penis and scrotum dry with a soft towel.
To prevent your baby’s penis from sticking to the nappy, it’s a good idea to moisten the front of the nappy with petroleum jelly, pawpaw cream orsomething similar.
2. If your baby boy is uncircumcised
You should try to pull back the baby's foreskin gently, clean it with a cotton ball and warm water. If the foreskin doesn't go back/is attached to the skin... try daily using some very mild antibiotic lubricant like Neosporin etc. and push the skin back to prevent a milky white substance (called smegma) to gather under the foreskin. This is just made of dead skin cells and natural secretions.
Although, harmless this might lead to infection if there are signs of foul smell in that area. So in the infant stage itself, daily tryand pull back the foreskin, use mild antibiotic ointments or seek help from your family's elderly people.
Cleaning your daughter’s labia
Nappy creams, sweat and other substances can collect in and around the labia.
To clean your baby girl’s labia, wet a cotton ball, hold your baby’s legs apart and wipe between the labia with the cotton ball. Start at the front and gently wipe backwards. Lightly pat your baby’s genital area dry with a soft towel.
Don’t use vaginal deodorants or douches. They can upset the natural chemical balance of your baby’s vagina and increase the risk of infection.
You might (or not) notice a discharge that looks a bit like egg white. This is perfectly normal, and you don’t need to clean it away. If you’re unsure about any other discharge, see your doctor. A mother's instincts are never wrong!
Indian traditions like calling a lady for massage for the new-born and new mom is therefore to be encouraged as these so called "Nain" (ladies belonging to the barber/masseuse clan) know a lot about hygiene and importance of massaging and cleanliness newborns.