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Umbilical Cord Care (cont.)

Self-Care at Home

Patient Comments
  • During the first hour after delivery, usually following the baby's first bath, the umbilical stump (as it is now called) is treated with an antiseptic applied directly onto it, to decrease the chance for infection.
  • Twenty-four hours after delivery, the clamp can be safely removed from the stump. It is a good idea to make sure the clamp is removed at the hospital, before the baby goes home. The clamp can get stuck during the home diaper changes and can pull on and injure the stump.
  • After mother and baby are discharged from the hospital or 24 hours after delivery, your pediatrician may recommend wiping the stump and the surrounding skin area with rubbing alcohol 2-3 times a day until the stump falls off. But some research suggests that the stump may heal faster if left alone. It's important to follow your physician's advice.
  • Keep the stump dry, and expose the stump to air as much as possible to help dry out the base. Keep the front of the diaper rolled out and down. Change wet or soiled diapers quickly to prevent irritation. In warm weather, dress your baby in a diaper and T-shirt to improve air circulation.
  • Avoid bathing in a baby tub or sink until the stump falls off. Sponge baths are often the best way to wash the infant until this happens.
  • Within the first two weeks, the cord usually falls off. When this happens, you may notice a small, pinkish area in the bottom of the belly button, which does not look like the rest of the skin. This is expected, and normal skin will grow over it. Once this happens, it is safe to give your baby a bath. Resist the temptation to pull off the stump yourself, even if it's hanging on by only a thread.
  • Remember, it's normal to see a little crusting or even dried blood near the stump.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/21/2014

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Umbilical Cord Care:

Umbilical Cord Care - Self-Care at Home

What did you do to care for your baby's umbilical cord stump?

Umbilical Cord Care - When to Seek Medical Care

Did your baby experience complications from his or her healing umbilical cord? What was the problem and how was it treated?



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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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