Separation of your baby's umbilical cord
The umbilical cord doesn't always separate and fall away as it should.
When a baby is born the umbilical cord is clamped with a plastic cord clamp to prevent bleeding and infection.
Then, follows a process of gradual drying out and eventual separation.
After several days it becomes dry, hardens and shrinks in size. At 5-10 days the base becomes moist and can leave a trace of blood on the nappy as it separates from the baby's umbilicus. It can smell a bit like parmesan cheese! This is normal. It is very rare to get cord infections.
Then one day you will come to change your baby's nappy and discover the cord in there, separated from your baby. This can be 7-14 days after birth. Some cords are a bit thick and resistant to separate.
To clean the cord all you need to do is use some cooled boiled water or saline solution and some cotton wool.
Cords should be kept clean and dry to encourage separation and kept out of the babies nappy. There are no nerve endings in the umbilical cord so you can't hurt your baby by touching it.
As soon as the baby is born and it is clamped it becomes 'dead' tissue. The process of birth changes the fetal circulation and the first breaths the baby takes close all the vessels leading to the cord. It has 2 arteries and one vein and is a rich source of stem cells.
If the cord fails to separate fully it leaves behind a granuloma as you can see in the photo above. This will continue to ooze fluid onto babies clothes and nappy.There is a slight risk of infection and so it can be cauterised by your local GP or Paediatrician using a silver nitrate stick. It may take 1 or 2 attempts to shrink it as silver nitrate is very powerful and has to be used very carefully.
There has been recent exciting research in Australia into using these stem cells to treat auto-immune diseases like diabetes and childhood leukaemia's.
It may be something to think about when deciding what to do with the umbilical cord.