Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

The Newborn After Delivery

Postpartum Care of the Umbilical Cord
In the first few hours after birth you will have many choices to make.
In the first few hours after birth you will have many choices to make.
Publications International, Ltd.

The umbilical cord, all-important in delivering nutrients to the baby in its fetal stage, will gradually go away after birth. Until then, you will need to care for it. It's an easy process, and a temporary one as well.

Usually shortly after the cord is cut, your doctor applies a special substance called triple dye or some other antiseptic agent to it. This may make the cord appear blue. The clamp that was left on the cord at birth is removed on about the second day.

For one to three weeks afterwards, your baby will have a black, dry stump of cord where the belly button will be. The stump gradually dries up and falls off. In the meantime, you need to keep the cord clean. The best way to do that is to take a cotton swab, dip it in rubbing alcohol, and gently wipe it around the base of the cord each day.

Other Considerations

Other matters become very important in the first hours after birth. During the time when you and your baby can become acquainted with and accustomed to each other, you have many choices.

For example, it is for you to decide how much time you want to spend with your baby. Studies have shown that being together from birth seems to improve the parent-infant relationship. Bonding (a strong attachment between parent and child) is enhanced by more contact. The only reason your time together might have to be limited is illness in either mother or baby. Hospital routines should not keep you apart. You must also decide how you will feed your baby -- breast or bottle.

The relief after the delivery is over can quickly be replaced by apprehension. Perhaps you do not know if your baby is healthy or what tests the nurses or doctors might be performing. The key is understanding these postpartum tests and the post-delivery process.

To learn more about newborn care and development, take a look at the links on the next page


Dr. Elizabeth Eden, M.D. is a practicing obstetrician with her own private practice in New York City. She serves as an attending physician at the Tisch Hospital of the New York University Medical Center, as well as a Clinical Assistant Professor at the New York University School of Medicine.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.