Umbilical Cords

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about umbilical cords…

What Does the Umbilical Cord Do?

The umbilical cord is responsible for providing your baby the nutrients and oxygen he or she needs during pregnancy. After birth, it’s no longer necessary, so it’s cut after birth, leaving just a stump behind. The stump will eventually fall off on its own.

When Will the Stump Fall Off?

On average it takes about 2 weeks. However, this time period will vary from baby to baby, so it’s usually not an issue if it falls off sooner or later. It will turn a variety of colors, starting with yellowish-green and ending with a brownish-black as it dries before ultimately falling off.

How Do I Clean it in the Meantime?

In the past, alcohol was used as often as with every diaper change to clean the area. But research now shows that it may heal faster on its own if left completely alone. Make sure to keep the area dry and expose it to air when possible. If it gets wet or sticky, try to dry the area as best as possible, using an absorbent cloth or by fanning the area. Using loose clothing and folding the diaper down will also allow air to naturally dry the area out. Until the stump falls off, sponge baths are best for your baby.

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What Else Can I Expect?

The area may at times smell pretty foul. You may also see a little crusting or dried blood around the area, or on your baby’s clothing or diaper. These can all be normal occurrences.

How Do I Know if it’s Infected?

If the area surrounding the cord becomes hot and red, this is a good sign it’s becoming infected. If the area is continuously bleeding or oozing foul-smelling yellow pus, it may also be infected. These are reasons to call our office immediately.

As always, if you have any other questions or concerns regarding your baby’s cord, we will be happy to help.

Alyssa Papa, a certified Physician Assistant, joined Kids Plus in June 2012.