When Does Umbilical Cord Fall Off?

The umbilical cord connects mom to baby in the womb to provide nourishment, oxygen, and help filter wastes. It is connected to the placenta that is attached to the uterus. The umbilical cord is what makes up the “belly button” and just after your baby is born, the doctor will clamp and cut the umbilical cord. This doesn’t hurt the baby. If you are wondering when does umbilical cord fall off and how to care for it, here’s helpful information and tips.

When Does Umbilical Cord Fall Off?

After your baby is born, the umbilical stump usually dries up and falls off when your baby is about two weeks old. Two weeks isn’t an exact number, some babies lose their stump as early as 7 days and as late as 21 days.

You will need to take good care of the stump while it is still attached and be careful not to bump it with the diaper. Make sure other young children in your home know not to play with the stump.

After your baby loses the stump, there may be a small amount of blood or discharge for a few days. There may also be some scabs stuck to the area. These are known as “umbilical granulomas” and usually go away quickly by themselves. If they remain, let your pediatrician know. The umbilical stump does not contain any nerves and your baby will not feel any pain there.

Umbilical Cord Falling Off Too Early

According to doctors, without trauma or infection, the stump can fall off early with no issues at all. Let’s take a look at one case:

New Mom: “My daughter’s umbilical cord came off only five days after she was born. I didn’t think they could fall off that fast and what really worried me was it was bleeding prior to falling off. I was really worried since my other babies lost them when they were around two weeks old.”

Pediatric Expert: “I get some very alarmed new moms in my office that are asking, when does umbilical cord fall off?” They are scared because the nurses at the hospital seem to give the magic number “two weeks” when in fact it could be earlier or later than that. If the cord was dried and baby isn’t running fever, there isn’t anything to worry about. Even an odor can be quite normal as long as the baby isn’t running any fever or acting sick. Blood is normal too and if it continues to bleed, I can use a little silver nitrate on it to help complete the healing process.”

Umbilical Cord Falling Off Too Late

Some umbilical cords take a little longer to fall off. There have been cases of this taking much longer than two or even three weeks. Here is one case where the umbilical cord took over four weeks:

New Mom: “It has been 4 weeks since I had my baby, when does umbilical cord fall off because it is still there and hanging by a thread? There doesn’t seem to be any infection and my baby doesn’t seem bothered by it, but I am starting to worry.”

Pediatric Expert: “2 weeks is the average time it takes the umbilical cord to fall off. It can actually take up to six weeks as long as there are no problems. Issues to worry about are: signs of infection (yellow drainage, redness to the surrounding skin, or discomfort). You may need to keep it clean and dry, while folding the diaper down to allow air to get to it. After six weeks, it may be a good idea to tell your doctor. They may have you come in to check for infection. It is possible to speed up the process by putting some silver nitrate ointment on to help the drying process.”

What to Watch Out for in Baby’s Umbilical Cord?

Bleeding

If the stump falls off and there is bleeding, use a piece of gauze and apply gentle pressure. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, contact your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room. They may need to use a small dab of silver nitrate or electrocautery. If the stump falls off early and there is no bleeding or signs of infection, just keep the area clean and dry for a few days.

Scar Tissue and

Whether the cord falls off early or late, it can come off and still be moist. When this happens you may notice some pink tissue underneath. This is known as a granuloma and may be accompanied by discharge. Continue to care for your baby’s belly button area, keeping it clean and dry. Give your doctor a call if this doesn’t go away in a week.

Infection

The signs includefoul odor, discharge, redness to the skin, and heat to the touch. Also check your baby for fever, excessive sleepiness, or inconsolable crying. If you see any of these signs, call your doctor right away.

Baby’s Umbilical Cord Day by Day

If you are still wondering, when does umbilical cord fall off, here’s an account day by day:

Day One: The cord is clamped at birth, but will still be moist and have veins in it. There are no nerves and your baby cannot feel it being cut or clamped. The clamp must stay on while your baby is in the hospital.

Day Two: The clamp will still be on the stump until you are discharged from the hospital.

Day Three: If you go home and the stump is dry enough, your nurse will remove the clamp and give you instructions for care. The stump may begin to appear very dark in color.

Day Four: The stump will begin to appear very dark and dry.

Day Five: Begin to check today for signs of infection. The cord should be drying up and very dark by today. Call your doctor if you notice redness or oozing.

Day Six: The stump should be becoming very dry now. It will look like a very dark green scab.

Day Seven: You may notice the stump loosening a bit. Check again for any signs of redness or oozing from the stump.

Umbilical Cord Care Tips

  1. Clean the stump with a cotton ball dipped in mild soap and water. Dry it gently with a cloth.
  2. Fold the top of your baby’s diaper down to let air get to the stump.
  3. Change wet diapers right away.
  4. Avoid tub baths until the stump has fallen off. 
 
 
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