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Umbilical Cord Care (cont.)

Umbilical Cord Stump

The umbilical cord connects the developing fetus to the mother through the placenta from the sixth week of pregnancy until birth. As a lifeline, the cord supplies the developing fetus with oxygen, nutrients, and a means of waste elimination while in the womb. At birth, because the baby is able to breathe, eat, and void the bladder and bowel, the umbilical cord becomes unnecessary; so it is clamped and cut shortly after delivery. Since there are no nerve fibers in the cord, your newborn will not feel it.

It is important to provide proper care for this portion of remaining cord at the baby's navel until it heals and separates from the umbilicus - usually within two weeks after birth. The stump will change from a yellow-green color to black as it dries out. Be aware that at this point it will not be possible to determine whether your child will grow up with a so-called "inny" or an "outy."

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Umbilical cord complications in pregnancy are numerous, ranging from false knots, which have no clinical significance, to vasa previa, which often leads to fetal death.

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