Umbilical Cord Cutting and Care for Newborns
Every baby whether born naturally, or via c-section, would be born with an umbilical cord. Cord care is very important in ensuring no infections
Cutting the Cord
When a baby is born, the first thing is to cut the umbilical cord. The cord can be cut by the OBGYN, the father of the baby or someone close (e.g. your mother perhaps). My husband cut my eldest’s umbilical cord, but I cannot remember whether he cut it again for our second daughter.
In the even that you’re having a c-section instead and your husband is squeamish about surgeries, the cord will be cut by your OBGYN or midwife.
You may also be interested in delayed cord clamping, as it is healthier for your baby. If this is something that you are interested in, you will need to let your doctor know.
The umbilical cord is first clamped to seal off the open blood vessels in the cord before any cutting is done. This is usually a plastic umbilical cord clamp. Though it can also be a metal cord clamp or even cord tape. What is used depends largely on your practitioner. Both my daughters had plastic umbilical cord clamps.
Preparing to Clean the Umbilical Cord
When I was discharged the specialist centre sent me home with two bottles of Hyrdogen Peroxide and some packets of sterile cotton balls. Other hospitals might provide you with alcohol swabs.
- Gather up your supplies so that they are within reach
- You will need either cotton swabs or cotton balls and a solution like hydrogen peroxide or alcohol.
- Put baby on the changing table or mat. My confinement lady cleaned the cord during diaper changes, and also after bath time.
- Undress your baby and expose the cord area.
- Dip the cotton swab or cotton ball into the solution to wet it thoroughly.
- After each wipe, the swap is discarded. This is to deter any infection.
Cleaning the Cord with a Q-Tip or Cotton ball
Some may find that using a Q-Tip is the easiest way to clean the umbilical cord. But I find this is a matter of preference. I noticed that my confinement lady preferred to use sterile cotton balls. She thinks it is more gentle compared to using a Q-Tip. A cotton ball can also absorb more Hydrogen Peroxide. I notice sometimes she would saturate the cotton balls in the solution and just drizzle the whole umbilical cord stub with it. It did seem like a faster method.
But in the end, she will only reach for Q-tips where a more thorough cleaning is necessary, like for instance the base of the belly. A Q-tip can reach further into the belly button than a cotton ball can, especially when doing cord care baby has had a bath. Be mindful to really clean the nooks and crannies of the base of the belly button, where it will stay “wet” longer.
Call your baby’s doctor or pediatrician if there is a foul odor coming from the area of the umbilical cord, if there is redness around the cord or if your baby is running a fever.
The End Result of Cleaning
Expect the cleaning tools to have traces of blood and dirt. This is normal, do not worry. Sometimes some staining can happen on your baby’s clothes as well. Even as the umbilical cord slowly dries out, it will still be weepy and leave marks on the clothing of your new baby.
When putting diapers back on, be sure not to cover the umbilical cord. See the diagram and fold down the diapers to expose the umbilical cord:
Before the Umbilical Cord Falls Of
Just before the umbilical cord falls off, you’ll notice it getting drier and drier. It will actually begin to shrivel over a period of time. When it is ready it would just fall off naturally. Do not pull it off.
The Umbilical Cord Stump
The cord stump is what will be all that’s left once the cord has fallen off. You can simply throw it away. Though some parents choose to save it. Totally your choice. My confinement lady covered it in talcum powder and bagged it into an angpow for me to keep. What did you do with the umbilical cord stump?