Umbilical Cord 101

By Medically reviewed by Hello Doktor Medical Panel

What is the umbilical cord?

The main responsibility of the umbilical cord is connecting you and your baby during pregnancy. It serves as a bridge to lead nutrients and blood from you to your baby. During the few final weeks of your pregnancy, your body also transfers antibodies to your baby through the umbilical cord. Once your baby leaves your body, the umbilical cord’s job is done.

When to cut the umbilical cord?

Since your baby does not need the umbilical cord after birth, it is often cut at that time. However, it does not have to be cut immediately. In fact, it is believed that delaying the cutting of the umbilical cord (also known as delayed cord clamping) for more than one minute may bring several health benefits. Reports suggest delayed cord clamping results in higher initial hemoglobin concentration, greater iron storage 3-6 months after birth, and higher birth weight. However, doctors also notice that babies whose cords were clamped later often suffered from jaundice. In cases of a nuchal cord (when the umbilical cord wraps around a baby’s neck), the cord has to be cut before the shoulders get out to prevent birth asphyxia.

Who will cut the umbilical cord?

If you want to cut the umbilical cord by yourself or to let your partner to that, let your doctor know beforehand. Your doctor will instruct you how to do it properly. If you do not want to cut the umbilical cord, your doctor will cut it for you.

What’s left after the umbilical cord is cut?

The umbilical cord will leave a small stump on the baby’s belly button. This stump will fall off on its own after a couple of weeks.

How to take care of the stump?

It’s important to keep the stump clean and dry. Do not use alcohol on the stump because it may lead to irritation. Let the stump have as much air exposure as possible so it can dry faster. Shop for diapers that have a cut to let the stump out. Do not submerge your baby in water until the stump has fallen off. Fan the area to help it dries faster after each time you bathe your baby. Refrain yourself from picking and pulling the stump off, even if it just hangs on by a thread. It’s best to give the stump time to leave on its own. If you notice any sign of infection (swelling and redness, bleeding, pus, foul discharge, pain), seek medical help as soon as possible.


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Review Date: April 13, 2017 | Last Modified: December 6, 2019

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