Umbilical cord care

The umbilical cord is the baby’s lifeline to the mother during pregnancy.  The umbilical cord attaches to the mother’s placenta and the baby receives all essential nutrients, including oxygen and food through this attachment.

About the Umbilical Cord

The umbilical cord is a bluish-white color immediately following birth. Following delivery the cord is clamped and cut close to baby’s 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

  • Keep the umbilical cord area clean and dry until it is ready to fall off.
  • Clean the cord area with water.
  • Clean the cord base two to three times per day or with each diaper change and after a sponge or tub bath.
  • Dry the area thoroughly using a dry cotton-tipped applicator. Always try to keep the area as dry as possible.
  • Fold the top of the diaper down to expose the cord. This 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