What to Expect and How to Care for a Newborn’s Umbilical Cord

Newborn Umbilical Cord Care | Baby Chick

What to Expect and How to Care for a Newborn’s Umbilical Cord

The umbilical cord is what connected your baby to your placenta and blood stream during pregnancy. Without an umbilical cord, the baby would not be getting the nutrients or oxygen needed to develop. But once the baby comes out, that cord is no longer needed. Your doctor or midwife will cut the umbilical cord (or help your partner do so), detaching your baby to be his own separate little person. But what comes next for newborn umbilical cord care?

What to Expect from Baby’s Umbilical Cord

The umbilical cord is clamped a few millimeters from the body and then cut. The clamp is to help stop the bleeding from the three blood vessels in the umbilical cord, two arteries and one vein. Allowing part of the cord to stay on the body and fall off on its own is what creates a belly button.

Most U.S hospitals practice “dry cord care” now, but if not, they may apply a medication to the cord once its cut that is a purple dye or a different antiseptic.

Umbilical cords tend to look worse than they actually are. They start off white and shiny and as they dry out they might become gray, yellow-ish, brown, or black.

Once the stump falls off you may see a red or raw looking area under where the stump fell off. Sometimes even a small amount of liquid tinged with blood may ooze out of the navel, it is called umbilical granuloma. That is normal. However, if it does not dry up within 1-2 weeks call the doctor, they may prescribe a drying medication called silver nitrate in addition to standard umbilical cord care.

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Umbilical Cord Care

In order for the cord to fall off it needs to remain dry. To ensure this, use sponge baths (not submersion baths in the tub) to keep the cord from getting wet. Because if it doesn’t dry out, the risk of infection increases.

Dress the baby in a diaper and t-shirt allowing air flow to the umbilical cord. Folding the diaper down in the front will prevent irritation and keep moisture away from the belly button area. Avoid full body onesies until the cord has fallen off to prevent rubbing and irritation on it.

Even if the cord looks like it is hanging just by a bit, resist trying to pull it off. Proper umbilical cord care calls for letting it fall off on its own.

If you notice a crusty or waxy substance around the base of the umbilical cord and you feel like you need to clean around the base of it, soaking a cotton swab in warm water and mild soap can do the trick. Squeeze all the excess water out of the cotton swab and gently wipe around the base of the umbilical cord wiping away crust or sticky substances. Then gently pat with a dry cloth and let it air dry. Do not worry about hurting the baby while doing this; the baby has no nerve endings there.

Signs of Possible Umbilical Cord Infection

Call your doctor if you notice any of the following signs and symptoms of infection:

  • The belly button area starts to smell.
  • Your baby cries when cord is touched.
  • The skin around the umbilicus looks inflamed.
  • If the belly button will not stop bleeding once the cord has fallen off.
  • Baby develops a fever.
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Omphilitis is a life threatening infection that can develop from a primary infection at the umbilical cord. Therefore, signs of an infection need to be treated immediately.

Formation of the Belly Button

Contrary to popular belief, there is no way to predict if your baby’s belly button will be an “innie” or an “outie.” And there is no umbilical cord care that will help either way. And there is no way to change a baby’s navel by attempting to remove the baby’s umbilical “stump” prematurely. Also, do not tape a coin or other flat object to the baby’s navel in effort to prevent an outie.

Umbilical cord care can be broken down into two main thoughts: Keep it dry and don’t pick at it. Nature will take over. But in the rare case of umbilical cord care that you suspect you do need to clean or if there is a complication, call your doctor and see what they recommend.

About the Author /

Hannah Southerland is a stay-at-home mom and wife of two little boys. She blinked and now they are 3 and 4 and taking over her world with karate moves and an endless need for snacks. Over the past 4 years, she’s been researching topics on sleep, baby care, and motherhood, trying to parent the best way she knows how!

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I'm seriously needing some of these things tonight to start a new week. Hoping you mamas get some self care time too! 💕⁠
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Instagram post 18073051357163780 When it comes to clamping the cord, our mottos is "what's the rush?" The blood volume in the placenta and cord at the time of birth is BABY'S blood. It's simply mid-circulation in the placenta at the time of birth. It just makes sense to leave it be and let it finish its job.⁠
No, the blood won't drain out of baby and go backwards into the placenta.⁠
No, your baby is not more likely to get sick from jaundice.⁠
Yes, your baby will still be getting oxygen while they figure out breathing, especially important if they need resuscitation.⁠
Yes, your baby will have better iron levels for the first year of their life.⁠
Look at how thick and engorged this cord still is at 4 and 18 minutes after baby was born. Just imagine how much blood baby would have lost if the cord had been clamped immediately, or at 60 seconds, 90 seconds, or 3 minutes! The placenta was expelled immediately before the 18 minute photo was taken. The pulse in the cord could still be felt even AFTER THE PLACENTA HAD BEEN DELIVERED! The cord was finally clamped and cut more than an hour after birth at 73 minutes. ❤️⁠
📷: @lawrenrosephotography⁠
Informative post and words by @bundleborn⁠
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Instagram post 17990835490280335 I totally felt this way when I was pregnant. And kinda feel this way after all that turkey. 🤣🦃 Happy turkey day to all you expecting mamas!!⁠
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Here are some tips to combat isolation:⁠
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1️⃣ Get outside when possible.⁠
2️⃣ Video chat with friends/family.⁠
3️⃣ Join a virtual group.⁠
4️⃣ Invite someone to come over.⁠
5️⃣ Find a local mom's group.⁠
6️⃣ Listen to the radio or a podcast (it's interesting how this can make us feel connected with others)⁠
7️⃣ Run an errand--even grabbing a coffee via drive-thru can feel good.⁠
8️⃣ Get to know your neighbors.⁠
What would you add to the list?⁠
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Flying on a plane with your little one for the first time can be terrifying. Are they going to cry the whole time? How will they handle the airport, the turbulence and the landing? Well we have some tips that will help prepare you for your flight with your kids. Here's what to do to have a more enjoyable experience 😊 {Link in bio!}⁠
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