The umbilical cord is the baby’s lifeline to the mother during pregnancy. The cord transports nutrients to the baby and also carries away the baby’s waste products. It is made up of two arteries and one vein.
The umbilical cord is a flexible, tube-like structure that has a spongy appearance. The cord is surrounded in a jelly-like substance. After childbirth, the cord is clamped and then cut, leaving a stump behind. In about a week, the stump withers and falls off. The stump changes in color from yellowish-green to brown to black before falling off.
It is important to keep the cord clean in order to prevent infection. Bathing the cord in water does not increase the rate of infection or make the cord take longer to fall off. Allow the cord to dry naturally. Allow the cord to dry naturally. There is no need to apply topical substances such as alcohol.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/01/2018.