The umbilical cord is the long tube that connects a baby to the placenta while in the womb. It contains 2 arteries and one vein. The umbilical cord supplies the baby with oxygenated, nutrient rich blood via the vein and transports the deoxygenated blood back to the placenta via the arteries. The average length of an umbilical cord is about 50cm or 20 inches.
When baby is born
When the baby is born it no longer requires a connection to the placenta as it is able to breathe, eat and secrete waste products independently. Therefore the umbilical cord is no longer needed. Soon after the birth of the baby the cord is clamped on either side (one clamp near the baby, the other close to the placenta) and is cut. The cord has no nerves so there is no pain to either the baby or the mother when this is done. The baby then usually has an umbilical stump about 2-3cm (1- 1 1/2 inches) long protruding from where your belly button is found.
The loss of the umbilical stump
How long it will take for this stump to fall off varies greatly depending on various factors. In most cases you can expect that the umbilical stump will dry up, turn black and drop off naturally anywhere between 5 and 15 days. This of course is dependent on whether the area is keep dry and infection free. After this has occurred in may take 7 to 10 days for the baby’s belly button to heal completely. Some parents choose not to have the umbilical cord clamped and cut at birth. This is called lotus birth or umbilical nonseverance. The entire cord stays attached to the baby and is allowed to dry naturally. In this case the cord is said to separate independently on about the 3rd day after birth.