What Do I Do With That Cord? A Picture Guide: The In's and Out's.

There is a lot of information given on how to take care of baby's umbilical cord. Use water, use alcohol, rub it with this, rub it with that? With all that information, how do you know what you should do with it? Counter Culture to the rescue, here is some information you will want to remember!

Picture Guideline: The In's and Out's of Your Baby's Cord:

A Little Background:

The reason to clamp the baby's cord all has to do with your baby's anatomy. When your baby is in your womb, your baby receives nutrition, oxygen, regulation of hormones, blood flow, etc. directly through your baby's umbilical cord regulated by you! The umbilical cord also helps to eliminate waste products. Your placenta and the baby's umbilical cord play a vital role in your baby's growth and development during pregnancy, labor, and directly after baby is born.

As you can see from the picture below, your baby's umbilical cord is directly connected to

your baby's vital organs. In order to reduce the chance of infection and chance of increased bleeding, a clamp is applied to the cord and the cord is cut. The cord has three vessels, two arteries and a vein.The umbilical vein supplies the baby with oxygen and nutrient rich blood from the placenta. The baby's heart pumps deoxygenated blood through the umbilical arteries back to the placenta. Inside the cord, the arteries are surrounded by a substance called Wharton's jelly. This jelly helps to prevent cord compression or knotting.

Detaching The Cord:

There are several options to consider when thinking about detaching the cord.

Lotus birth focuses on allowing the cord to fall off on its own. This method uses different herbs to dry the placenta and the cord out and preserve the organ until it falls of. It is a slower process that allows bonding, increased emotional support for the baby, and reduces the chance of infection.

Another method is burning the cord. Some people prefer to use this method as it creates an intimate atmosphere and supports bonding. It takes about 15 minutes to burn a cord verses the few minutes it takes to cut the cord. It also requires the use of several people to help maintain a safe atmosphere. This also cauterizes the vessels and secures a sterile closure.

Cord clamping is the last option. This can be done as early as birth or as late as several hours after birth. A clamp or band is applied to the cord and it is cut with scissors. The benefits of clamping and cutting are minimal, however this method can serve well if an emergency were to arise or the baby would need further interventive medical help.

Care Of The Cord:

Once your baby's cord has been cut, clamped, or burnt the cord will go through several different changes before it falls off. When your baby is born the cord is spongy, yellow, and moist. The picture above is a good example of what the cord looks like on the first day of life. It is important that during diaper changes the cord is out of the diaper and exposed to air. Fold down or cut the diaper so that it does not interfere with the cord.

After the first day it starts to change and take on a discoloration. It begins to shrink and starts to loose its sponginess. The color begins to change. Again it is important to continue to leave the cord open to the area. Stay skin to skin with your baby as much as possible to maintain baby's body temperature. Limit dressing baby, this helps your baby's hormones regulate, helps maintain your baby's body temperature, heartbeat, and breathing.

There is no need to add anything to the cord. Leave the cord open to air. Using water, alcohol, witch hazel, ect. will cause the cord to take longer to dry out and can cause the cord to be wet when it does fall off. You can, if you choose, take an herbal postpartum soak. The herbs will help dry out the cord, provide protection against infection, and helps your bottom after birth.

After a few days, the cord continues to shrink and changes and continues to dry, changing in color to a darker yellow and black. This stump will still be firmly attached. Be careful in diaper changes, clothing changes, and using blankets as the cord can be prematurely removed at this point. The cord can also appear to be wet around the end, near the umbilicus. If this happens, allow your baby more opportunity to lay naked and expose it to air.

After 5 days to a week, the cord will shrivel into a dark stump. It will start to loosen or even hang. At this point be mindful of the cord during changes. When it is ready, it will fall off.

It is not uncommon for the cord to ooze a little or have a little bleeding. If it is wet your pediatrician can use silver nitrate or your midwife can use a cord drying powder that will help the navel or stump dry out. The more open to air the cord is the dryer it will be.

When To Contact Your Health Care Provider:

Times to contact your health care provider are as follows:

  • Blood

  • Pus

  • Odor

  • Ring around umbilicus

The pictures below are some examples of what a cord infection may look like:

Contact your health care provider if you have any questions, concerns, or need support. They are there to help you!

All in all, majority of the time, the umbilicus is easy to care for. Regardless of the method you use to preserve your baby's cord, it is a wonderful time of bonding and getting to know your baby. Add your comments and tell us about your experience on facebook or on our mother's forum!!

#cordcare #midwifery #midwife #cordcut #cordclamp #homebirth #homebirth #birthcenterbirth

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