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Umbilical Cord Care

Umbilical Cord Care Overview

Parents, especially new parents, tend to get concerned about their newborn's umbilical stump. The most important advice ias to keep it clean and dry until it falls off.

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 and may have an odor. 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."

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/2/2015

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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?

Umbilical Cord Care: After the Visit

Followup care for your child's umbilical cord stump is as important as anything the doctor does.

Make sure to keep the area clean and dry, and look out for infection, as indicated by redness or swelling around the area of the stump after it falls off.

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Umbilical Cord Complications »

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.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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