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Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond

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Your newborn: Cord care

Baby lies on back with healing umbilical cord.


Call your baby's health care provider if the umbilical cord site:

  • starts bleeding
  • oozes
  • gets red
  • has a foul smelling discharge.

After your baby's umbilical cord is clamped and cut, a small piece of the cord remains. This dries out and then falls off revealing the "belly button."

The process usually takes five to 10 days, but can take longer. When the cord falls off, there may be a few drops of blood at the site. This is normal.

Until the cord drops off:

  • Clean the cord according to your health care provider's instructions.
  • Keep the cord dry. Gently pat the cord dry with a towel if it gets wet during a bath.
  • Keep the diaper below the cord. This helps keep the cord dry and open to the air. It also prevents irritation from urine.

If there's stool on the cord, drip some warm water on the cord and wipe it off.


Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, sixth edition, preg-ahc-90026, ISBN 1-931876-25-8

First published: 10/04/2002
Last updated: 01/23/2013

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts