What Is An Umbilical Cord
The umbilical cord is the tube-like structure that carries food and oxygen from a mother to their baby while pregnant. It also carries waste products away from the baby so the motherâs body can get rid of them.
After you give birth, doctors clamp and cut the cord. The cord has no nerves, so neither you nor your baby will feel anything. A small stump will be left on your childâs belly. It can be anywhere from a half-inch to an inch long.
At first, the stump might look shiny and yellow. But as it dries out, it may turn brown or gray or even purplish or blue. Itâll shrivel and turn black before it falls off on its own.
Usually, it comes off between 10 and 14 days after your baby is born, but can take as long as 21 days.
Caring For Babys Umbilical Cord Stump
Here are a few things to keep in mind until the cord comes off:
- Be gentle. Keep your hands off of it, and donât ever pull on it.
- Keep the cord clean and dry at all times. Skip the tub and sink and give your baby sponge baths instead.
- Leave the cord alone until it falls off by itself.
- Fold diapers so that they rest below the cord to shield it from your little oneâs pee. You can look for diapers that have an area cut out for the cord or cut a spot out of a regular diaper. Just place a piece of tape around it to seal the edges.
Check the cord often for infections. Call your doctor if you see:
- Blood on the end of the cord
- A white or yellow discharge
- Swelling or redness around the cord
- Signs that the area around the cord causes your baby pain
If your baby had a low birth weight because they were born prematurely or had another health issue, they may be more likely to have an infection, so itâs good to keep an especially close eye out for any of these signs.
Keeping The Area Clean And Dry
You can help your baby’s umbilical cord stump fall off and heal faster by keeping it dry.
- Keep your baby’s diaper folded below the umbilical cord stump. If folding does not work well, try cutting out an area in the front of the diaper to keep the stump exposed to air. It also helps prevent diaper contents, such as urine, from irritating the stump.
- Many baby baths are gently sloped. This helps you position your baby for a bath.
The stump usually falls off in 1 or 2 weeks, but sometimes it takes longer.
Read Also: How To Establish A Routine With A Newborn
Infected Umbilical Cord Stump Symptoms
- A foul-smelling yellow discharge comes from the stump.
- The skin around the stump becomes reddish.
- Swelling of the navel area.
- Your baby cries when you touch the stump, indicating it is tender or sore.
- Fever or lethargy.
- Low appetite
- A fluid-filled bump on or near the umbilical cord stump of your newborn.
What If The Umbilical Cord Falls Off Early
Like most things with babies, theres no precise timeline to predict exactly when your newborns umbilical cord will fall off. While most babies will lose their umbilical cord stump in about two weeks, some will fall off in less than a week while others will take up to three weeks.
Assuming theres no active bleeding or signs of infection like redness or swelling, theres nothing to worry about if your babys umbilical cord falls off early. Its normal for the area to look a bit red and raw at first and then heal over time.
Also Check: How To Keep Fleas Off Newborn Puppies
Possible Signs Of Infection
Lastly, its important to clarify that you shouldnt worry if you see a bit of blood or yellowy liquid after the cord falls off. This is normal.
However, you should practice proper precaution and check with a pediatrician if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Reddening of the skin around the stump.
- Seeping of blood or yellowing liquid from the cord of the belly button. Its important to differentiate between normal bleeding, and considerable bleeding which may be the result of rubbing against the diaper.
- If the cord smells bad.
- Your baby has a fever.
- If pink scar tissue glanuloma forms around the area and doesnt go away within a week.
Finally, you should also pay attention to abnormalities in regards to your babys feeding, resting and behavior in general. And, besides the above suggestions, parents should also be sure to follow all of the indications given by their babys pediatrician.
Drying The Umbilical Stump
Always pat the stump dry with a clean towel after cleaning it. Make sure its completely dry before dressing your baby up. Newborn nappies with navel cut-outs are highly recommended, or simply fold down the nappy to keep the stump exposed.
Finally, let the stump fall off naturally. Pulling it off is not advisable.
Recommended Reading: How Long Do Babies Use Newborn Diapers
How Does Newborns Umbilical Cord Care
In ancient days, people used to tie a cloth around the umbilical cord, so that it remains safe. These days it has become a standard practice to keep the umbilical cord dry. Following are the ways to take care of a babys umbilical cord stump-
- Keep it clean- If by chance, the stump gets dirty just dab it gently with a wet cloth and then pat the area with a dry, clean cloth. Do not use soap, as it can irritate the babys skin.
- Let it be dry- It is necessary that you keep the stump dry by exposing it to air regularly.
- Change diapers frequently- It is necessary that you keep changing the wet and dirty diaper frequently. Do not let the diaper leak upwards in the navel direction.
See more- Things to follow when diapering newborns
- Dress delicately- Do not put on dresses to your baby, which is too tight around the navel. Choose loose-fitting clothing which does not press the stump. Also, try to have more cotton clothing, so that air circulation is maintained.
- Sponge baths- Give your baby a sponge bath, until the stump falls. After it is gone, you can give your baby a bath.
- Do not touch or pull it- Never try to pull the stump also do not touch it again and again. Just a small mistake and the stump can start bleeding.
How Long Will It Take For The Umbilical Cord Stump To Fall Off
The stump usually falls off in the first week or two after your baby is born. During the first couple of days, the stump looks yellow and wet. As it dries out, the color changes to brown or black and it will shrivel up. This part sometimes freaks new parents out, but it’s just part of the process!
When the stump falls off, you may notice a little bit of blood or fluid, which is almost always normal. It may take a few more days for the area to completely dry out.
You May Like: When Is A Newborn’s First Doctors Appointment
How Long Does The Belly Button Take To Heal
The belly button should heal completely in days. It may bleed or ooze a little after the cord falls off, but if there is continuous stickiness or discharge, it may be infected and you should show your doctor or maternal and child health nurse.
Sometimes the belly button does not heal completely and moist red tissue forms over the stump site, often with a lump present. This is called a granuloma. It is usually harmless, but you should ask your doctor or child and family nurse to have a look at it.
Signs Of An Infected Umbilical Cord Stump
These are some of the signs of an infected umbilical cord:
A smelly yellow discharge from the stump area
A reddening of the skin around the stump
Swelling of the navel area
Your baby crying when you touch the stump, indicating it is tender or sore.
Itâs normal to see crusted discharge, dried blood, or a little bleeding when the umbilical cord stump falls off. Bleeding is not necessarily a sign that your newbornâs belly button is infected, but if your babyâs umbilical cord area continues to bleed ask your childâs healthcare provider for advice.
Read more about baby skin care so that you can help keep your little oneâs soft skin healthy and clean.
Read Also: Can Newborn Fall Asleep With Pacifier
Cleaning The Belly Button
Once the stump falls off, you can give your baby a proper bath. You dont have to clean the belly button any more or less than the rest of babys body.
You can use the corner of a washcloth to clean in the belly button, but you dont need to use soap or to scrub too hard.
If the belly button still looks like an open wound after the cord falls off, avoid rubbing it until it heals completely.
How Is The Umbilical Cord Removed
In order to cut the umbilical cord, doctors clamp it in two places and cut between the two clamps. This prevents too much bleeding.
Umbilical cords dont have any nerves, so it doesnt hurt when the umbilical cord is clamped off, the same way a haircut or clipping your nails doesnt hurt.
However, the umbilical cord stump is still attached to living tissue on your babys abdomen, so you want to be very careful with the stump and surrounding area.
Don’t Miss: How To Treat Newborn Rash On Face
Caring For A Newborn Belly Button
The best way to care for an umbilical cord stump is to keep it clean and dry until it falls off on its own.
To keep it clean, you dont need to wash it regularly. Instead, you should avoid getting it dirty.
Keeping the stump dry is the best way to promote healthy healing and a natural break off.
Here are some tips for newborn belly button care:
- If the cord gets wet, gently pat it dry with a clean baby washcloth. You can also try using a Q-tip, but avoid being too aggressive or rubbing the stump off. You dont want the stump to be pulled off before its ready.
- Fold down the top of your babys diaper to keep it away from the stump. Some newborn diapers come with a little scoop in the design to prevent the diaper from rubbing against the stump.
- Use clean cotton clothing on your newborn and their healing belly button. Its ok to pull light clothing over the stump, but avoid anything too tight, or fabrics that dont breathe well.
Sponge baths are best as you wait for the umbilical cord stump to fall off on its own, because you can easily avoid washing the area around the stump.
Ask your doctor how frequently you should wash your baby. Their skin is sensitive and doesnt need to be cleaned every day.
To bathe a baby with their stump still attached:
What To Do If The Newborns Umbilical Cord Turn Red
During shedding the umbilical cord stump, the four sides of the umbilical cord often appear slightly red, which is a normal phenomenon in shedding the umbilical cord stump and is nothing to worry about. However, if the belly button and the four sides of the skin become very red and the skin feels hot when touched by hand, the belly button is likely infected, and you should take the baby to the doctor in time.
Don’t Miss: How To Put Newborn To Sleep At Night
Are Babies Born With A Belly Button
Babies are born with belly buttons sort of.
Babies are actually born with an umbilical cord that attaches them to the placenta. In the womb, this cord delivers oxygen and nutrients to the baby through a spot on their tummy. The umbilical cord also carries waste away from the baby.
Once a baby is born, they can breathe, eat, and get rid of waste on their own, so the umbilical cord is cut off.
Left behind are a couple of inches of umbilical cord called the stump, which will slowly dry and fall off like a scab. Below that scab is what will become your babys own belly button.
How To Take Care Of Umbilical Cord For Newborns
The umbilical cord is the link between the fetus and the placenta and is the channel through which the fetus absorbs and excretes metabolites from the mother. After the baby is born, the original significance of the umbilical cord is lost. Therefore, after the baby is born, the doctor will cut off the umbilical cord near the babys end, leaving a small stump of the cord. It takes about a week for the umbilical cord to fall off from the cut to the root. The umbilical cords cut stump is very susceptible to germ infection for the baby, so meticulous umbilical cord care is needed.
Newborn umbilical cord care should pay attention to the following aspects.
Read Also: What Time To Put A Newborn To Bed
Caring For The Umbilical Cord
Wash the cord stump as part of your babys usual bathing routine.
Make sure you wash your hands first. Use only water and cotton pads, and dry it carefully. If wee or poo gets on the stump, you can use a mild soap to help clean it off. You dont need to use antiseptics and alcohol.
Let the cord sit out of the nappy so it dries out in the air this can be done by folding the nappy under the cord stump. There is no need to cover the cord stump with Band-Aids or bandages, as this stops airflow around the stump.
If youre not washing the cord stump, try not to handle it.
Pay Attention To Observation
Within 24 hours after the umbilical cord is ligated, parents should closely observe any bleeding. Some newborn babies will have a small amount of ooze or blood due to the umbilical cord ligatures loosening. If you find that the gauze covering the umbilical cord is contaminated with blood or wet, you should ask the doctor to re-sterilize the ligature immediately.
Recommended Reading: How To Play With Newborn
What Are The Risks Or Complications At The Umbilical Cord Site
Infections at the site of the stump can occur. The following symptoms are a sign of infection:
- The stump leaks a clear to yellow fluid that smells bad.
- The skin around your childs umbilical cord changes color or swells.
- Your child has a fever of 100.4°F or higher.
- Your child is overly sleepy or lethargic .
- Your child isnt feeding well.
- Your child has a weak muscle tone .
Infections can spread quickly. Contact your provider if you notice any symptoms of an infection in your newborn.
When your babys umbilical stump falls off, sometimes theres a small amount of tissue that remains on their skin. This appears as a bump of scar tissue that is pink to red, located on the belly button. The granuloma can leak a yellow or clear fluid that usually goes away after a week. If the granuloma stays for longer than a week, see your babys pediatrician.
An umbilical hernia is a small bump or bulge under your childs belly button, giving it an outie appearance. This happens when part of your babys intestines get stuck in the opening of the abdominal wall. Umbilical hernias are painless and become more noticeable when your baby cries. A hernia will normally heal on its own within 18 months. If the hernia doesnt heal on its own by the time your child turns five years old, your provider may need to surgically repair that part of your childs abdominal wall.