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Caring for the Umbilical Cord

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Once your baby is delivered, the umbilical cord will be cut. However, a small portion will remain, until it falls off; somewhere between 7 days and four weeks. Until this happens, mom and dad must care for the cord. The best time to do this is when you are changing baby's diaper. This will ensure that you don't forget this important task! Until the cord falls off, make sure to fold down the front of baby's diaper, allowing the umbilical stump to be exposed. Additionally, you will want to refrain from submerging baby in bathwater until the cord falls off.

Thomas Whalen, M.D., of Bentleyville, Pennsylvania, offers the following advice. "Use an alcohol swab to clean this area a few times daily. Gently clean around the base of the stump, being careful not to pull the stump, which could cause bleeding." Furthermore, Dr. Whalen advices when to notify your baby's pediatrician. "If a parent notices an oozing, puss-like discharge, or more than a small seepage of blood, notify your doctor."

Caring for the umbilical stump with alcohol, and exposing it to air, will speed up the time it takes for the stump to fall off. Once it does, you will no longer need to fold down baby's diapers, and can begin regular bathing.

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