The umbilical stump is the final souvenir of your baby’s stay in the womb. The stump is around 2 to 3 cm long and will eventually dry and fall off. But a lot of worried first-time mothers are keen to know how long will it take for their baby’s umbilical cord stump to fall off and how to take care before and after it falls off. Continue reading to know all about this.
What Is An Umbilical Cord Stump?
The placenta, which supplies oxygen and nutrients from you to the baby in the womb, is connected to the baby through the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord has two slap arteries and one large vein. It has no nerves in it. After delivering the baby, your doctor clamps and clips the umbilical cord. As there are no nerves, neither the baby nor the mother feels pain during this procedure. After being clamped and cut, a stump of tissue stays attached to the baby’s belly button known as umbilical cord stump. The umbilical cord stump will ultimately fall off, leaving a permanent mark- the belly button.
When Will The Umbilical Cord Stump Fall Off?
After the baby is born, the umbilical stump usually dries up (at the beginning, it appears purplish blue or bluish white and turns black once it has dried up) and drops off in about 7 days to 21 days, leaving a small red, raw-looking spot that will heal in a few days
Both the umbilical stump and the scar that is left behind after the umbilical stump is fallen off should be taken care of carefully as there are chances of infection.
How To Clean The Umbilical Cord Stump?
- Clean the umbilical stump with a cotton swab soaked in warm water and mild soap. Remember to squeeze out the excess water
- Gently wipe the sides of the stump and the skin around it with a cotton swab
- In case the stump is sticky or dirty, clean it with water and use a fresh clean cloth to dry up the area around the stump. You may also choose to dry the area by fanning it
- The stump will heal faster if left alone. Therefore, avoid applying any kind of disinfectants like alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
How To Take Care Of The Umbilical Cord Stump?
Until the umbilical cord stump of your baby falls off, take the following precautions:
- Take measures that the diaper will not bump into the umbilical stump. Bend and fold the diaper away from the stump. Or else buy diapers designed for newborns which have a cutout space for the stump. This helps the urine from contacting with the stump
- Exposing the stump to air helps to maintain the dryness, which is essential for quick healing
- Dress the baby with loose cotton tops that permit free air circulation and speed up the drying process
- It is better to avoid tub bath and give sponge bath to your baby until the stump falls off
- Never try to pull the stump out. Allow it to fall off in naturally. Otherwise, the chances of infection are very high
What Are The Signs Of Umbilical Stump Infection?
The umbilical cord infection, if neglected, can turn out to be a life-threatening infection called omphalitis. Therefore, seek medical attention if the child develops following signs and symptoms:
- If the baby cries when you touch the stump or skin near it
- If the baby develops fever and excessive sleeplessness
- If the base of the stump turns red
- If smelly puss oozes out from the base of the stump
- If the stump bleeds continuously
How To Take Care Of The Belly Button After The Umbilical Cord Stump Falls Off?
After your baby’s umbilical stump falls off, it is quite natural to see a little swelling of the bellybutton or discharge of a small amount of clear or yellow fluid tinged with blood for a short period. However, taking care of the area after umbilical cord falls off is important to avoid any infections.
- Keep the belly button area clean and dry
- Never let the diaper rub against the area
- Do not use alcohol or any other products to clean the belly button area
- Do not use talcum powder to dry the belly button area
- Clean the belly button area gently with cotton wool during bath and pat dry gently with a dry cotton cloth
- Applying silver nitrate in the area is also sometimes recommended by some pediatricians
What Are The Signs Of Newborn Belly Button Infection?
Even though it is normal to see blood or discharge in the area after the stump is fallen off, you should seek the advice of the doctor if the belly button area discharges smelly pus or the adjoining skin becomes red and swollen.
How Long Does It Take For A Newborn Belly Button To Heal?
It will take around a week to 10 days for the small wound to heal that has occurred after the umbilical cord stump has fallen off.
What Is Umbilical Granuloma?
An umbilical granuloma is a damp, reddish lump of tissue that remains on a baby’s belly button after the umbilical cord has dried and fallen off. An umbilical granuloma does not cause any pain. It may discharge a small amount of fluid. Usually, it goes away by itself but your doctor can easily treat this minor infection.
Fascinating Traditions About The Umbilical Cord Stump
The umbilical cord stump was believed to a significant part of the baby. In olden days, dais and maalishwaalis used to massage in an around the stump with oil. But remember that your baby’s umbilical stump and the area around is very sensitive so without checking with your doctor, refrain from doing any such practice as it could lead to an infection.
A lot of traditional and religious belief were attached to umbilical cord stump. Some of the popular ones include:
- In India and Mexico, the umbilical cord stump was believed to bring good luck to the baby so it was placed near the baby’s neck. In turkey, it was kept in the house as some kind of good luck charm
- In some customs, after the umbilical cord stump falls off, it is thrown over a Peepal tree while some bury it under the ground and a sapling is planted over it. It is believed that the health of that tree will depend on the state of baby’s health
- In some traditions it was believed that taping a coin or any flat object around the stump will help push the belly button in and the baby will have an “innie”
Remember all these are mere religious beliefs and don’t have any truth attached to it.
Do you have any such religious beliefs to share with us? How did you take care of your baby’s umbilical cord stump? How long did it take for your baby’s stump to fall off? Do share your experiences in the comment section below.