“They cut the umbilical cord, give you a slap on the ass, and presto! you're out in the world, adrift, a ship without a rudder.”
-Henry Miller


The umbilical cord is the baby’s lifeline to the mother during pregnancy.
It is no longer needed once the baby is born. Within a few minutes after birth, the cord is clamped and cut close to his/her navel. The clamp helps to prevent bleeding from the blood vessels in the umbilical cord. An antiseptic, often purple-colored, is applied to the cord as part of the baby’s early care.

By the time the baby goes home from the hospital, the cord is beginning to dry and wither. The clamp can be removed once the cord is completely dry. The cord falls off by itself in about two weeks. Because the umbilical cord may be a place for infection to enter the baby’s body,
it is important to care for it properly.

Keep the cord on the outside of the baby’s diaper. Some newborn-size diapers have special cut-outs for the cord area, but you can also fold down the top edge of the diaper. Also, keep the baby’s cord dry (this means a sponge bath until the cord falls off). Apply a sterile alcohol pad to the base of the cord around three times per day until it falls off. Call the doctor if there is:

  • Bleeding from the end of the cord or the area near the skin
  • Pus (a yellow or white discharge)
  • Swelling or redness around the navel
  • A sign that the navel area is painful to your baby

There may be a small amount of blood after the cord falls off, but this should stop quickly. Never try to pull the cord off.

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