How do I take care of the umbilical cord stump? 

Midwife Suzanne Barber explains how you can best care for your baby’s umbilical cord stump.

Your baby after the birth

Transcript of How do I take care of the umbilical cord stump?

How do I take care of the umbilical cord stump?


Suzanne: When your baby is born, your midwife will clamp the umbilical cord. The cord is made up of three blood vessels. There are no nerves in it so it won’t hurt your baby. You’ll find after about five days, the cord has changed in appearance, going almost black in colour and quite hard and dry. It will normally fall off completely by itself within five to 15 days.

It’s really important not to speed up that process and fiddle with it or cut it or pull it. Let the cord dry off naturally and it will fall off by itself.


While your baby still has the umbilical cord still attached, you may find it easier to sponge bath your baby. Most umbilical cord stumps will heal well. However, sometimes there are problems. In particular, we need you to look out for any signs of infection. Around the base of the stump the skin will become inflamed or reddened and in particular, there is a foul smell that can emit from the area.


Keep it clean. But if you get those two signs its important to seek help from your midwife or your GP.


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