Umbilical Stump

What is an umbilical stump?

During pregnancy, babies receive nutrients and oxygen through the help of the placenta. The placenta is attached to the inner wall of the uterus and is connected to the unborn baby with the help of the umbilical cord. After the birth of the baby, the umbilical cord is cut in a painless manner as it is not needed after birth. Due to the absence of any nerve, neither the mom nor the baby will feel pain while the cord is cut. And this results in a short stump on the navel of the baby.

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How long does the umbilical stump remain on the baby’s navel?

Normally, it takes around five to fifteen days for the stump to dry up and fall. If it is kept dry, the average time taken is seven days. So, you should keep the stump dry and free from infections.

When the umbilical stump starts drying, it shrivels up and the colour changes from yellowish-green to black or brown. And after the stump dries off totally, it drops naturally. So, it is advisable not to pull the stump; let it fall by itself. You may notice blood stains on the diaper when the stump falls off; it is quite normal. So, it may take some days for the wound to heal. Sometimes, you may see some fluid drainage and bits of lumpy flesh may remain on the baby’s navel. If these fluids and fleshy lumps don’t disappear on their own, consult your child’s doctor.

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How to take care of your newborn baby’s umbilical cord stump?

Parents should take proper care of the baby’s umbilical cord so that it dries up quickly and falls off on its own. And in order to keep the umbilical cord stump uninfected, there are various measures which you should follow.

  • You should keep the umbilical stump clean. If the umbilical stump gets sticky or dirty, you should clean it using plain water. But don’t forget to dry it with a clean and absorbent piece of cloth or fan it with paper.
  • Parents should take proper care to keep the stump dry. So, keep the umbilical stump exposed to air as much as you can which will help the base to get dry. To avoid the stump from getting covered, fold the front of the baby’s diaper. Or you can cut out some portion of the diaper in the front so that it doesn’t touch the umbilical cord. It also prevents the contents of the diaper from disturbing the umbilical stump.
  • During summer, you can dress your child in a T-shirt and diaper which will help the stump receive better air circulation. And during winter, dress your baby in loose clothes and take proper care to make the stump remain dry.
  • Till the time the stump falls off, it is advisable to give sponge bath to your baby. It will help the stump from getting wet. And after the stump falls off, you may give your child a bath in a tub of water.
  • Even if the umbilical cord looks like it is hanging by a thread, don’t try to pull it off. Let it dry and fall off naturally.
  • Till the umbilical stump of your newborn baby falls off and has healed totally, you should avoid dressing your child by covering the whole body.
  • Avoid using antiseptic without your doctor’s advice and let the umbilical stump fall off naturally.

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Signs of infection:

During the process of healing, if your baby’s stump looks a little mucky, it is quite normal. But if the following symptoms occur, it is advisable to consult your child’s doctor.

  • The umbilical stump becomes swollen, smells foul or discharges yellowish fluid.
  • The navel or the surrounding area becomes red and swollen.
  • The umbilical cord stump continuously bleeds.
  • Baby has fever or remains unwell.
  • Baby shows lack of interest while breastfeeding.

So, if you have a newborn baby, take proper care of the umbilical cord so that the stump gets dried up easily and drop off normally.

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