How to Care After Umbilical Cord Falls Off


The umbilical cord is created by three blood vessels. Before the baby is born, it is linked to the placenta and the fetus. This cord is responsible for providing proper blood circulation. Within the cord, there are two small arteries that take blood into the placenta. Meanwhile, a large vein brings blood back to the fetus.

Once the baby is born, the umbilical cord is cut from the baby. The baby no longer needs the umbilical cord or placenta to live, so the cord is cut and tied off. Before long, it will naturally heal on its own. Immediately after birth, you may become concerned if you notice bleeding or unusual discharge from your baby’s belly button. When this happens, it is important to know when you should seek medical care. There are a few things that you can expect before and when the umbilical cord falls off.

When Does the Umbilical Cord Actually Fall Off?

The umbilical cord forms when the baby is still in the womb. Its job is to bring nutrients and oxygen to the baby, and then take away waste and carbon dioxide. Once the baby is born, there is no longer a reason for the umbilical cord to remain connected. The doctor or midwife clamps and snips the cord. A short stump is left behind on the baby. First-time parents are often surprised by the sight of the umbilical cord and want to know when the umbilical cord will fall off and what to expect. For the umbilical cord to fall off, it must dry up completely. It all depends on the baby. In general, it takes about 7 to 21 days for the stump to dry completely and fall off. Once that happens, a small wound will be left behind that will generally heal in a couple of days.

How to Care After Umbilical Cord Falls Off

Babies have been born to every species on the planet, and human beings have given birth since before they were even a species. Because of the long history of births, different societies have developed unique ways to treat the umbilical cord wound after it falls off. It is quite normal to hear different old wives’ tales and superstitions about how to care after an umbilical cord falls off.

Some mothers say that alcohol will help heal the affected area faster. This is probably not true. There is no scientific evidence to back this claim, and it could even irritate your baby’s belly button. Doctors generally recommend that you try to keep the belly button as clean as possible. When bath time rolls around, only use water to clean the area. Afterward, make sure to dry the baby with a clean towel. You need to make sure that your baby’s wound is exposed to air to help it scab over to heal. You should also watch the wound carefully to make sure that it does not become infected. In general, you do not need soap, alcohol or cleaning products to care for the umbilical cord wound.

Sometimes, you may start to become worried when you notice how the baby’s belly button looks. You may look down and notice some discharge. This type of discharge is known as an umbilical granuloma. If this develops, it is important that you talk to your doctor. Your doctor may want to give you drying medication like silver nitrate to help the wound heal. You should also make sure to talk to your doctor immediately if you notice any foul-smelling pus coming out of the affected area.

When Should You Become Worried?

It is normal for you to bathe your baby after the umbilical cord falls off. When you bathe your child or change their clothes, make sure to pay attention to how their body looks. There are some warning signs that happen that alert you to a problem. The following are signs that you should talk to your doctor:

1. Redness

Redness is a sign of irritation or inflammation. If you see redness in or around your child’s belly button, you should not ignore it. While it might just be a sign of irritation or overly dry skin, it could also be a sign of something more serious. To see what is going on, find a pen. Mark the spot where the redness is by moving the umbilical stump. Next, wait an hour or so before rechecking it. If the redness remains or has spread farther, then it could indicate an infection. Go to your baby’s doctor to get help.

2. Pus and Odors

When someone has an infection of any sort, it will often cause a foul-smelling odor. If your baby’s umbilical cord suddenly develops a bad odor, it could indicate an infection. Other signs of an infection include yellow pus coming out of the stump, redness and swelling. If any of these symptoms appear, you should make sure to take your baby to the doctor for professional care.

3. Bleeding

As the stump heals, some bleeding is normal. The wound may open up when the baby’s skin moves slightly. Normally, the bleeding is nothing that you should be worried about. Press on the spot where the bleeding comes from, hold the pressure for a couple of minutes, and the bleeding should come to a stop. If the bleeding does not stop after five to seven minutes of continuous pressure, then it could be a sign of a problem. If this is the case, go to your doctor or call your doctor to see if he or she wants you to come into the office.


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