Umbilical cord care is the after party of your pregnancy journey. You’ve come a long way, mama!
As the connection between your baby and the placenta, the umbilical cord is the lifeline that provides your growing baby with the nutrition they need to both survive in the uterus and become strong enough to survive outside it.
When your baby is born, most of the cord is snipped, and only a small stump remains. This little artefact of life on the inside should fall off on its own. Between the time the umbilical cord is snipped and the time the stump falls off, some care is required to ensure that infections are kept at bay.
So, what’s involved in umbilical cord care? Let’s take a look. (Spoiler alert: it’s all pretty easy to do, so don’t stress.)
Umbilical cord care FAQs
When does the umbilical cord fall off?
These are the steps:
- The snip: After your baby is born, the umbilical cord will be cut.
- The stump: Your newborn’s belly button will look like a little stump, and will usually be a greenish-yellow color to begin with.
- The shrivel: With the right umbilical cord care, the leftover piece will dry up, turn black, and fall off.
And how long does it take for the umbilical cord to fall off? Generally, the umbilical cord falls off within about 15 days of your baby’s birth, but it can happen much sooner than this.
How can I make my umbilical cord heal faster?
Luckily, newborn umbilical cord care is pretty simple. There are two small rules that you need to remember:
- Rule number 1: keep it clean. Easiest way to do this? A wet cloth. And water is all you need. There’s no need for soaps as they may irritate that sensitive baby skin. Follow the wet cloth with a dry one and pat down the area.
- Rule number 2: keep it dry. Nothing like a little air drying to keep things fresh. Whenever possible, let that newborn belly button free. Sticking to sponge baths can also help ensure that the area doesn’t get wet. This will reduce the amount of time needed for the stub to dry out.
Another tip? Use special newborn diapers with an umbilical cord cut-out or fold the diaper down so that the area can breathe.
How do you care for an umbilical cord after it falls off?
After the umbilical cord falls off, stick to the rules for a few days: keep it clean and keep it dry.
Use a damp cloth to wipe off any bits and pieces that might be left behind, stick to sponge baths for the next few days, and air out the area when possible. After that, you can give your baby a more luxurious soak in the tub.
How do you know if the umbilical cord is infected?
It’s normal to see a little umbilical blood or fluid when the stump falls off. However, if you suspect that the area has become infected, get in touch with your healthcare practitioner as soon as you can.
Signs to watch out for are:
- Pus. If you notice a greenish-yellow pus, this could be a sign that it’s infected.
Irritated skin around the stump. Anything that looks swollen or reddish or is hot to the touch could be cause for concern.
- Colic. If your baby seems feverish and fussy, this could be a sign that something’s amiss.
An unpleasant smell.
Infection is possible—but it’s not likely if you have had adequate healthcare through the birthing process.
Finally, we want to say congrats! Umbilical cord care is something of a rite of passage into new mamahood—and that’s cause for celebration.