The umbilical cord is the lifeline that connects your baby to you through the placenta.
During your pregnancy the umbilical cord carries nourishment and oxygen to your baby.
Once the baby is born, the baby begins to breathe on his own and will be able to nurse and obtain his own nourishment, and the umbilical cord has finished its job.
Left to its own devices, the umbilical cord will naturally cease to function, and the jelly-like substance in which the blood vessels are suspended will expand, closing down the blood vessels to prevent bleeding.
In modern obstetrical practice, the cord is typically clamped with two hemostats after delivery and the cord is cut between them.
Afterwards a plastic clamp is placed nearer the baby’s abdomen and the cord is cut just beyond that. The umbilical cord contains no nerve endings, so your baby feels no pain. The remaining bit of cord is often referred to as the umbilical stump.
Over the course of your baby’s first few days, the umbilical cord will continue to dry, turning a rather unattractive brownish or black color. To care for your baby’s umbilical cord, keep it dry. Use only sponge baths for your baby until the umbilical cord has completely fallen off.
If the cord gets sticky or seems unusually crusty, wash it gently with baby-safe cleanser and warm water, and dry it gently and thoroughly.
The cord will dry and fall off more quickly if it is exposed to air, and your baby will be more comfortable if you fold down his diaper so that it is not rubbing against the cord. Let the cord fall off on its own; do not pull on it or attempt to further cut it.
Umbilical cord infections are rare. However, if you notice any signs of infection, which could include swelling, redness, pus, a foul odor, or bleeding, contact your baby’s pediatrician right away.