Umbilical cord care

The umbilical cord is the baby’s lifeline to the mother during pregnancy. It is through the umbilical cord that the baby receives all essential nutrients, including oxygen and foods.

About the Umbilical Cord

The umbilical cord is a bluish-white color immediately following birth.

It is attached to the mother’s placenta and following delivery, will be clamped and cut close to the skin. The cord clamp can stay on the umbilical stump until the stump falls off. In some cases, it is practice to remove the cord after a few days when the stump has sealed, darkened in colour and dried.

The cord will typically fall off completely within one to three weeks.

Umbilical Cord Care Tips

  • Until the cord is ready to fall off, the area should be kept clean and dry.
  • Water is all that is needed to clean the cord.
  • The cord base should be cleaned two to three times per day or with each diaper change and after a sponge or tub bath.
  • The area should be thoroughly dried using a dry cotton-tipped applicator. Always try to keep the area as dry as possible.
  • Folding down the top of the diaper and exposing the cord will help the area dry out faster!
  • When the cord falls off the baby’s belly, you may notice a raw area at the point of attachment. There may also be a small amount of blood spotting, but the area should soon heal.
  • Do not pull on the stump/cord but leave it to fall off on its own.

If your baby develops a fever, or if the cord area becomes red or swollen, oozes yellow pus or produces a foul smelling discharge, your should have your baby assessed by a doctor.

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Last updated: 2019-08-06