How to take care of Umbilical Cord of Newborn

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What is Umbilical Cord?

An Umbilical Cord is the connecting of tissue between fetus and mother’s placenta. This act as the life support for the fetus during prenatal development. Umbilical cord carries oxygenated and nutrient-rich blood to the fetus and bring back de-oxygenated, impure blood back to the placenta.




Umbilical Cord cutting in a newborn


When the baby is born, there is no need for umbilical cord anymore and it is cut as early as 1 minute after the birth. The cord is clamped to help seal off the open blood vessels and then cut close to baby’s tummy. The clamp is usually plastic, but in some cases, it may be metal clamp or a cord tape. Within 2-3 weeks, the stump dries off and fall on its own.


Care of Umbilical Cord stump/ Cleaning newborn umbilical cord


After birth, umbilical cord is clamped and cut close to body. Even though the tissues are not needed anymore, it takes a few days for clip to fall on its own and for the wound to dry and heal completely and leave a clean belly button. Till then, it is important to keep it clean and dry and take care of it.

  • When you get discharged from the hospital, you will be given sterilized cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol to clean the umbilical cord stump. This may be done once or twice a day. The cleaning should be done very gently.
  • Some doctors advise to let it dry naturally, which is considered a better way now.
  • Unless your doctor advise you otherwise, you may choose to bathe your baby very gently. If you are worried or if you have been advised by baby’s doctor not to wet the stump, just sponge the baby using a wash-cloth till the wound heals.
  • Make sure baby’s clothing is loose and diaper is worn below the umbilical cord stump. The stump should get lots of air to heal fast. Baby’s clothing should always be 100% cotton.
  • Even if stump looks try, do not try and pull it off, wait for it to fall naturally. It doesn’t take long.



When to inform the doctor?

A little smell and discharge is normal but you must inform baby’s doctor if:

  • Umbilical cord stump is showing redness and swelling.
  • Umbilical cord stump is oozing too much liquid or pus. It could be umbilical granuloma.
  • Baby develops fever.


Recommended Read:

Umbilical Granuloma in Babies



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