Although small, the umbilical cord has many advantages for the baby. Why? With the umbilical cord, babies can get nutrients and oxygen from the mother, and these two elements are needed by the baby for growth and development. It is better to learn more about the importance of umbilical cord care from the following overviews.
What is an umbilical cord?
The umbilical cord connects babies to mothers. This umbilical cord is about 50 cm long and extends from the baby’s belly hole to the placenta in the womb. This umbilical cord is very important for the survival of the womb because the umbilical cord brings nutrients and oxygen from the placenta into the baby’s bloodstream. Thus, the umbilical cord plays an important role in the growth and development of the baby in the womb. If there is a problem with the umbilical cord, the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the baby is disrupted, which in turn can impair the growth and development of the baby.
In addition to nutrition and oxygen, the umbilical cord is also an option for mothers to give antibodies to babies towards the end of pregnancy. These antibodies can give immunity to the baby to protect it from infection in the first 3 months of life.
The umbilical cord consists of:
- An umbilical vein that is rich in nutrients and oxygen from mother to baby
- Two arterial vessels that carry oxygen-free blood and the baby’s other body products (e.g., carbon dioxide) return from the baby to the mother’s placenta
The blood vessels in the umbilical cord are covered and protected by a sticky substance called Wharton gel. The gel itself is also protected by an amniotic membrane. The baby’s umbilical cord is quite long and has a circular shape so that the baby can move in the womb.
What happens to the umbilical cord after the baby is born?
After birth, the blood vessels in the umbilical cord close on their own. The blood vessels that close first are arteries. This is to prevent blood loss from the baby to the placenta. As the umbilical cord closes later, blood can continue to flow in the baby’s first few minutes of life.
Therefore, it may be beneficial for the baby to move the umbilical cord for a few minutes after birth. Yes, after birth, the umbilical cord is cut but not yet completed, and there are 2-3 cm of umbilical cord on your baby’s stomach, which then forms the navel in the baby. If the baby’s umbilical cord is cut, the baby will have no pain because there is no nerve on the umbilical cord.
Between 5 and 15 days after the baby is born, the rest of the umbilical cord dries out, turns black, and then dissolves again on its own. After the umbilical cord is released, it takes about 7-10 days for it to heal completely. Before the baby’s navel is completely healed, it is important that you keep the baby’s navel clean and dry at all times. This is to prevent infection.
If fluid leaks from the navel or bleeding occurs, take your baby to the midwife or doctor immediately for further treatment.
Care of the umbilical cord after the birth of the baby?
To prevent infection of the umbilical cord, you need to maintain the umbilical cord for several weeks until the navel in the baby’s abdomen is completely dry. Some things you need to do when taking care of your baby’s umbilical cord are:
1. Keep the rest of the umbilical cord clean
Clean the rest of the umbilical cord and the surrounding skin at least once a day. You can slowly clean it with cotton dipped in warm water and mild soap. Lift the dirt on the rest of the umbilical cord. Don’t forget to rinse it out and keep it dry. Clean every day until the rest of the umbilical cord is completely healed.
Do not clean it with alcohol as alcohol can irritate the baby’s skin and delay the healing of the umbilical beak.
2. Keep the rest of the umbilical cord dry
Make sure your baby’s umbilical cord is exposed to the air as often as possible. This allows the base of the remaining umbilical cord to remain dry so that the release of the remaining umbilical cord can be promoted. If your baby is wearing a diaper, try not to cover the rest of the umbilical cord to keep the umbilical cord dry and prevent irritation.
3. Bathe the baby by wiping, not soaked in the bath
Do not bathe your baby in the baby bath until the baby’s umbilical cord is completely released. Bathe the baby with a damp cloth and wipe all parts of the baby’s body with the towel. After that, immediately dry the baby’s body with a dry cloth to dry it faster. Be careful when rubbing a towel on the baby’s body as this can cause irritation.
4. Let go of the rest of the umbilical cord
Maybe you think by pulling the rest of the umbilical cord, this will help the escape. However, you should not detach yourself from the rest of the umbilical cord, usually within 1-2 weeks after birth.
What are the signs of infection in the rest of the umbilical cord?
If your baby shows signs of infection (see below), you should take her to a midwife or doctor straight away.
- Your baby will cry when you touch the rest of the umbilical cord or the surrounding skin
- The skin around the base of the remaining umbilical cord is reddish or swollen
- It smells like rotten or yellowish pus
- The rest of the umbilical cord is bleeding constantly
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