Newborn health & safety
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How to care for your newborn's umbilical cord

Tips to make sure your little one's cord stays healthy and prevent infection from Huggies' midwifery expert, Nikki Khan

Posted: 3 August 2011
by Daniella Delaney

Baby having umbilical cord cut
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The umbilical cord connects a baby in the womb to its mother and acts as a link from the placenta to your baby’s belly button and stomach. The average cord is about 50cm long. In the placenta, oxygen and nutrients from your bloodstream pass into your baby's bloodstream along the umbilical cord. There are three vessels in the cord:

  • One vein which carries blood containing nutrients and oxygen from you to your baby;
  • Two arteries that return blood without oxygen and waste products, from your baby back to the placenta

These blood vessels are protected by a sticky substance called Wharton’s jelly, which is covered by a thin membrane called the amnion. In the last trimester, the placenta passes on your antibodies through the umbilical cord to your baby, giving your baby immunity from certain infections for about the first three months after birth until your baby starts to produce his/her own antibodies

As soon as the baby takes his/her first breath the foetal circulation in the baby’s heart seals off and he/she no longer needs to receive oxygenated blood via the placenta as baby can breathe air now through the lungs. As baby inflates the lungs for the first time, be prepared for a big yell!

Why cord care is so important

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umbilical cord, care, newborn, baby, nikki khan, midwife, Huggies

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