Care of the Umbilical Cord


During pregnancy, the umbilical cord supplies nutrients and oxygen to your developing baby. After delivery, the umbilical cord is no longer needed — so it’s clamped and snipped. This leaves behind a short stump. The stump is expected to dry up and drop off in about 4 to 21 days.

For the first few days and weeks of your baby’s life, you’ll need to keep the umbilical stump clean and dry. This is because the umbilical cord attaches to the baby through an opening in the baby’s abdomen and has a high tendency to expose the baby to risk of infection if the stump is not properly cared for.

It is important to ensure that the stump dries up and falls off properly without irritation and infections. To help with this, we have put together some tips to help you care adequately care for your little ones umblical cord until it falls off. They Include:

Keep The Area Clean

Pediatricians used to recommend cleaning the base of the cord by rubbing alcohol. However, they now recommend leaving the stump completely alone because alcohol is believed to irritate the skin and sometimes delays healing.

Keep The Area Dry

Allow the cord to be exposed to air as often as possible. This allows the base of the cord to dry and will decrease the amount of time that is required for healing to occur. Using newborn diapers that have a special cut out or folding your baby’s diaper down also goes a long way to help keep the cord from becoming irritated. Depending on the weather condition, u can dress your baby in just a t-shirt and diaper to allow more time for the cord to dry out.

Only give Sponge Baths

Do not bathe your baby in a sink or special tub until after the umbilical cord has fallen off. If your baby does take a bath, make sure to fan the area to dry it completely. You should not rub it dry as this could cause irritation.

Allow The Cord to Heal Naturally

It may be tempting to “help” the cord dry out and fall off especially if it appears to be hanging on by a thread, but it is best to allow this to happen naturally. Refrain from picking and pulling the cord off.

Other methods in caring for your baby’s cord include the use of Goldenseal Root and Echinacea. It is best to consult your child’s pediatrician for his/her recommendations before using either of these alternative methods.

When to call your Baby’s Pediatrician?

You will need to call your pediatrician if

  1. you notice any of these signs of infections
  • Base appears red or swollen
  • Continues to bleed
  • Oozes yellowish or white pus
  • Produces a foul smelling discharge
  • Seems painful to your baby

Signs of infection of the umbilical cord stump can result in omphalitis (a life-threatening infection of the umbilical cord). This is considered a serious condition and needs to be treated immediately.

  1. If the cord is actively bleeding. This usually occurs if the cord is pulled off prematurely. Active bleeding is defined as when a drop of blood is wiped away, another drop appears.

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