Congratulations! If you’re reading this article, that probably means that you have just had a baby or are expecting one in the future. What an exciting time for your family. So many things to question, to try and figure out with a vast amount of information to sift through on the internet with some of that information conflicting. As a Mama Coach and a Registered Nurse, I am passionate about educating new parents with up-to-date, evidence-based information. This article aims to be just that– your last stop for information on umbilical cord care after you bring your baby home.
Placenta: The placenta is a pancake-shaped organ that is attached to the mother’s uterus and the umbilical cord which is attached to the fetus.
Umbilical cord: The umbilical cord is a cord made up of three blood vessels and is attached to the growing fetus and the placenta.
During pregnancy, your baby is supplied with oxygen and nutrients from the placenta, which they receive via the umbilical cord. Essentially the umbilical cord acts as a lifeline for your growing infant. After your baby is born, the cord is cut from the baby and the baby is left with an umbilical cord stump.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Once your baby’s cord has been cut, it will be clamped with an umbilical clamp. The umbilical stump may appear wet or shiny initially but may eventually turn more of a brown, black or grey colour. This is normal. You can expect that the stump will remain for 1-2 weeks but it is possible that it may take longer.
HOW TO CARE FOR THE CORD AFTER YOU BRING BABY HOME
After you have brought your baby home it is your job to care for the umbilical stump. The best way to do this is to keep it dry and clean. Firstly, you may need to fold the top of your baby’s diaper down to avoid putting pressure on the stump or causing irritation. If folding is not effective, you may need to cut the top of the diaper. Keep the area dry by giving your baby sponge baths. If the cord gets wet to ensure that you gently pat it dry and expose the stump to air, when possible to promote healing.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
As with any healing wound, there is always a risk of infection. If at any time you have concerns over your child’s umbilical stump it is always important to consult your healthcare provider.
Watch for the following signs of infection:
- Reddened or tender skin around the base of the umbilical stump.
- Skin that may be warm to the touch around the base of the umbilical stump.
- Pus or yellow fluid that is around the base of the umbilical stump.
- Any foul-smelling odor.
- A fever
If the following issues arise, you should also contact your healthcare provider:
- A moist red lump that does not resolve within 2 weeks.
- A bulging area around your child’s belly button.