Umbilical Cord Care

By Dr. Anukriti Singh|3 - 4 mins read| April 19, 2024

What is umbilical cord?

Umbilical cord is a hollow tube like structure which is responsible for the exchange of important nutrients in the foetal stage. During pregnancy, the umbilical cord connects the baby to the placenta attached to the mother’s womb. The cord has two umbilical arteries and one umbilical vein. These bring oxygenated blood and nutrients to the baby while taking away waste and deoxygenated blood. 

How is the umbilical cord stump created?

The umbilical cord stump is created at birth when the umbilical cord is clamped and cut after the delivery. The cord is clamped around 5 cm away from the body of the baby and then cut. As the umbilical cord does not have any nerves, the baby does not feel any pain during this process.

Why is umbilical cord care important?

The umbilical cord should be cared for to prevent development of an infection in the newborn. Proper umbilical cord care by the parents ensured that the cord stays clean and dry, allowing it to heal and fall off naturally.

How to care for the umbilical cord?

  • Allow the umbilical cord to air dry. You do not need to use any disinfectant or antimicrobial spray to clean the umbilical cord stump when it is cut. You should only use water and a clean cord to clean the stump and then allow it to air dry.
  • Keep the umbilical cord open. The stump of the cord should not be tucked under the waistband of the diaper. If the diaper reaches upto the navel of the baby, just tuck the waistband under the cord or fold it.
  • Give the baby sponge baths. Avoid the cord stump getting wet while sponge bathing the baby. Do not wash the baby with water or in a bathtub until after the cord falls off.
  • Clean all fluids around the umbilical cord. Use a clean cloth to clear up the fluids properly. 
  • Clean the umbilical cord if poop or pee gets on it. You can use a mild soap along with water to clean poop or pee of the baby from the cord. 
  • Look out for signs of infection. Consult a doctor immediately if cord appear infected.

How long does the umbilical cord remain attached?

The umbilical cord can remain attached to the body of the baby for as long as 21 days. It commonly falls off between 7-14 days in most babies. After the umbilical cord stump falls off, the area heals and forms the belly button of the baby.

What are the signs of umbilical cord being infected?

If you think that your baby’s umbilical cord is infected, you need to consult a doctor at once. There are several symptoms which will point towards an infection of the umbilical cord, some specific others general to all illnesses.

These symptoms include-

  • Baby may appear sick and unwell.
  • Babies may develop a fever due to infection.
  • There is redness at or around the area of the umbilical stump. 
  • There may be a swelling at the base of the umbilical stump.
  • The umbilical stump may ooze liquid or pus.
  • There can be a foul smelling discharge from the stump.
  • Baby may appear lethargic.
  • Baby may have a poor appetite and refuse feeds. 

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About The Author:

Dr. Anukriti Singh

Last Updated: Fri Apr 19 2024

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