Umbilical Cord Care
Today I’ll be talking about caring for your newborn’s umbilical cord.
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Hey there! You’re listening to the Mighty Mommy with some quick and dirty tips for practical parenting. Today I’ll be talking about caring for your newborn’s umbilical cord.
I’d like to start by explaining what the umbilical cord is and why its function is so important to your baby. The umbilical cord carries nutrients and oxygen to your developing baby. The cord is connected to your baby at one end and your placenta at the other. The cord contains two arteries and one vein. These arteries and vein transport nourishment to the fetus and remove its waste products.
Once your baby is born, the umbilical cord is no longer needed. The cord is cut and a clamp is placed on the remaining stump. While your newborn baby is beautiful, the umbilical cord stump isn’t very attractive. It’s a bluish-purple bit of cord which remains with a clamp at the end. It will usually fall off on its own in about one to two weeks. It can take much longer than two weeks, but this is rare. My daughter’s did not fall off for almost a month, but my son’s fell off before two weeks had passed. Don’t worry if it seems to be taking a long time. I worried about my daughter’s after two weeks had passed. I thought maybe I’d been doing something wrong, but it turned out just fine.
You should receive instructions from your pediatrician describing how to care for your baby’s umbilical cord stump. Different doctors will recommend different methods. My pediatrician recommended that I use a cotton ball to clean the area surrounding the stump with rubbing alcohol. Some doctors state that alcohol is too harsh for baby’s skin and recommend using just plain water. I’ve also heard that mild soap and water have been recommended, but you need to be very careful if you go that route. Almost all soaps have added fragrance or chemicals regardless of how mild they claim to be. If you don’t want to use alcohol, I’d recommend using plain, clear water. Ultimately, you will make the decision and it’s something you need to discuss with your pediatrician ahead of time.
The most important part of umbilical cord care is to keep the stump clean and dry. If you are using any type of liquid to clean the area around the cord, be sure to let it air dry completely before putting any clothing over the area. Take care when bathing your newborn as well. Stick to sponge baths while the cord stump is still in tact. Do not submerge the stump under water. When dressing your baby, try to leave as much air circulation around the area as possible. If weather permits, a loose-hanging tee-shirt is ideal for air drying.