Caring for the Umbilical Cord

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The umbilical cord is the cord which connects the unborn baby to the mother and through which the baby receives his or her nutrition, oxygen and support from the placenta. 

At Birth

Soon after birth the person who delivers your baby will clamp the cord about 3-4 cm from your baby’s tummy and place another clamp at the other end near the placenta. They will then cut the cord or sometimes you or your birth partner may be able to do so; there are no nerves in the cord so it will not hurt your baby. 

Caring for the cord at home

The stump of the umbilical cord will remain attached to your baby for around five days to two weeks. During this time it is important to keep it clean and dry and to watch for any sign of infection. 

It is helpful for the cord to be exposed to the air after baths or diaper changes to allow it to dry properly. Keeping the cord dry is important but do not rub dry with a towel after bathing allow it to air dry naturally as rubbing could cause irritation.  

Make sure your baby’s diaper or other clothing is not rubbing against or irritating the cord.

You do not need to use any specific lotions or products to cleanse your baby’s cord just gently wash the area when you wash your baby and allow to dry properly.

The stump will dry and become smaller and eventually fall off (this can seem alarming but is perfectly natural!). It then takes another week or so for the baby’s belly button (which is formed from where the stump fell off) to heal completely. During this time it is important to continue with the gentle washing and then keeping the area dry.

Watch for: 

If you notice any bleeding or other discharge from the area either before or after the stump falls off contact your health are professional for advice as soon as you can.

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