The Umbilical Cord

The Umbilical Cord - Parenting Guide Article, News from Nanny Options, Dublin

A lot of parents get nervous about cleaning and looking after the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord is clamped immediately after birth.  When the umbilical cord is cut, mother and baby will not feel anything as there are no nerves in the cord.
The cord should fall off in 7 to 10 days, when it falls off, a small amount of blood or wetness is normal. The cord will shrivel up and change color from yellowish-green to brown or black. Let the cord fall off naturally. Don’t pull on it or cut it yourself.

Caring for the umbilical cord:

  • Keep the cord clean and dry. The drier the cord, the sooner it will fall off.
  • Always wash your hands before and after you change his nappy to prevent infection
  • Use a cotton wool dipped in cooled boiled water to clean around the base of the cord three times a day or when changing their nappy.
  • Do not give your baby a bath until the cord falls off and the area looks healed. Give him or her a top and tail for the first few days.
  • Cover the cord with the nappy to protect, when you have your baby in the sitting position to wind, the nappy will irritate the cord because it has been folded.

Contact your Doctor if you see the following:

  • A bad smell coming from the cord
  • Redness around the cord
  • A yellow or greenish discharge
  • Bleeding
  • Temperature
  • A cord that remains soft and wet
  • Not interested in feeding and out of sorts

If your baby has the above symptoms, then his cord may be infected.
Contact your Doctor or public health nurse.


If the umbilical cord does not completely close you may have to visit your doctor and they will perform a procedure called cauterisation. Your Doctor will use a little stick made of silver nitrate to do the job. It’s a very common procedure and it won’t hurt your baby at all.

© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options.

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