The umbilical cord forms the connecting link between the foetus and the placenta during pregnancy. It provides nutrients and oxygen to the foetus and removes waste products.
After the delivery of the baby, the cord is clamped and cut and there is a stump left which is about half to one inch long.
Usually, the stump takes 7 to 14 days to dry and fall off. Leaving a granulating area that heals in another 7 to 10 days. Let the stump falls off on its own. Do not try to pull it off as it can cause the stump to bleed. Let it come off naturally. If it bleeds continuously then you need to call your health care provider.
Umbilical cord care
You don’t need to give special attention to it. Here are a few things which you can follow until the cord falls off-
- Keep the stump clean and dry all time.
- Do not touch the stump unnecessarily and never try to pull it off.
- Better to go for a sponge bath instead of a water and tub bath until it falls off.
- Make sure that the cord does not get wet by water or urine. Always fold the diaper so it can rest below the stump. If it gets dirty from the stool of the baby then gently clean it with water and make it dry.
- The cord is left exposed to the air without any application of powder. Sometimes, the antibiotic powder can be used.
- Check the cord daily for any kind of discharge or bleeding. If bleeding is seen, immediately check the cord clamp for being loose. If the cord is found to be loose fasten it.
- Watch for signs of infection like redness and swelling around the cord, bleeding at the site of the cord, any pus discharge, foul smell in the cord and fever.
If your baby’s stump takes more than 4 weeks to come off then you need to contact your health care provider. Sometimes, it may occur due to underlying problems in the baby.
Complications of the umbilical cord
Sometimes, there may be a formation of red lump tissue on the baby’s navel after the cord has dried and fallen off. This condition is known as an umbilical granuloma. It is mostly seen in the first few weeks of life. The doctor may prescribe silver nitrate to apply on the lump which burns the tissue ànd helps in drying. Usually, it is a very minor problem and goes away within a week, if not, contact your doctor.
Other than umbilical granuloma, there are other complications that may arise during healing of the stump including-
- Umbilical hernia- It is a condition, which involves protrusion of a baby’s intestines through the muscles near their navel. It’s a very uncomfortable condition, requires treatment.
- Omphalitis- It is the infection of the stump of the umbilical cord and the baby may experience symptoms like pain, tenderness, pus discharge or bleeding from the stump, fever and poor feeding. It needs treatment with antibiotics, analgesics and antipyretics.
In the above post, we discussed the umbilical cord, its care and its complications.