Cord care for your new baby

It is important to care for your baby's umbilical cord in the days and weeks after birth. The umbilical cord will feel cold and clammy, initially, and then will become quite dry and brown in colour. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and water before, and after, handling the cord. Check at each nappy change—there should be no blood loss.

When re-dressing your baby, fold down the nappy. This helps keep the cord exposed to air (keeping it dry), and will reduce undue pressure on the cord and prevent potential for infection.

When bathing your baby wash the cord with water and dry gently when drying your baby. There are no nerve endings in the cord so you will not hurt your baby when cleaning the cord.

The time it takes for the cord to seperate will vary; however, this will usually happen between five and 15 days after birth. When it is close to dropping off, you may notice old blood around the base of the cord. It is normal for the cord to smell at this stage. Just clean as previously described.

If the skin around the cord becomes red or hot to touch, looks inflamed, is offensive to smell or is noticeably draining pus, please show your midwife, nurse, doctor or child health nurse as soon as possible.

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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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