Q&A How long ’till the umbilical cord falls off?

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Question & Answer

Ahh cutting the umbilical cord – it’s an iconic part of birth. But once that main event is over, you may be wondering about the little stump that’s left behind.

The part of the umbilical cord that remains after it’s been clamped and cut is known as the cord stump. It’s usually about two to three centimetres long and initially looks white and ropey, but progressively dries and turns black. It looks…. ur, interesting, but it’s nothing to worry about, it’s supposed to do that.

Rest assured, the cord stump will eventually fall off on its own within seven to 14 days.

My 1 week olds umbilical cord is about to fall off and I’m just wondering if there anything I need to do to it once it falls off? Do I have to treat it or wash it out?
– Sarah, Autumn 2022 Baby Group – Mum’s Grapevine

Do I need to do anything special in the meantime?

Not really. It’s not unusual for there to be a little bit of residual blood or muck around the cord stump. But feel free to gently wash the area at bath time, if need be. And when you get bub dressed, try folding their nappy down underneath the stump to stop it rubbing.

Like most things with a newborn, make sure you practice good hygiene. You’ll want to wash your hands before and after touching the stump. And be vigilant around nappy changes and clean up any rogue wees or poos that find their way onto the cord stump.

If it gets wet, give it time to dry by allowing bubs tummy extra fresh air during the day to help the healing process.

Most importantly, do not pull or tug on the cord.

When will it fall off?

Umbilical cord stumps usually fall off within seven to 14 days. During this process, the stump will progressively dry out more and more until it simply detaches itself.

What remains is your baby’s belly button. Neat!

Is there any cause for concern?

Firstly, don’t be concerned if the area left behind is a little bit red. The presence of a clear or brown-coloured ooze that leaves marks on your bub’s clothing is also no call for concern. It may even be a tad smelly, but again, this is normal.

The only reason to worry is if the area around the belly button becomes very red, is warm to touch, and/or your baby develops a fever. Likewise, if bub’s cord stump is still attached after two weeks, get it checked by your doctor or midwife.

Otherwise, let nature run its course and soon enough your bub’s tummy will be cute as a (belly) button!

What can I do with the stump once it’s fallen off?

The vast majority of parents simply put it in the bin, however, some choose to send the stump away to be made into a piece jewellery. Yes it’s true, think a dark mottled ‘stone’ you can wear as a pendant or ring.


If you don’t like the idea of sporting your baby’s shrivelled cord around your neck you might prefer a piece of pretty personalised jewellery instead.

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