What to Do with the Umbilical Cord

When you hire a midwife or a doctor to be your birth attendant, you probably don’t ever wonder what happens to the placenta or the umbilical cord. But if you take your birth into your own hands, then the question is very legitimate. Surprisingly enough, even women who have given birth before have very little recollection of what happened with the cord and the placenta. At the hospital, you probably didn’t even get to look at either for very long. The good news is that taking care of the umbilical cord is not difficult. In fact, you have several options.

The Importance of Delayed Cord Clamping

Whichever option you choose for cutting the cord, it’s really important to wait to do so. The umbilical cord will be pulsating quickly when the baby is born. However, after some time, it will turn white and limp. At that point, your baby has retrieved all the blood it needs from the placenta. Cutting the cord too quickly will deprive your newborn of too much blood. That’s why it’s so important to delay cord clamping. You can wait until the placenta is delivered before you get the scissors. But you can actually wait indefinitely until the cord falls off by itself, too, if you want

A Lotus Birth

Some women chose a Lotus birth for their baby. This means never cutting the cord at all. Instead, you keep the placenta close to your baby for a few days, until the cord falls off by itself. You can also choose a short Lotus birth, in which the cord is severed between four to six hours after the birth. If you’re interested in a Lotus birth, the next step is to research on what to do with the placenta. But ideally, you’ll be spending the first week after birth in bed with your baby anyway, and the placenta can just stay wrapped up beside the two of you.

Severing the Cord

For everyone who’d rather cut the cord, there are a few different options to do so. You can use scissors, a knife, umbilical cord scissors, or a candle to sever the cord. If you’re cutting the cord, you should make sure to sterilize the instrument of choice beforehand. Since cutting the cord doesn’t have to be done quickly, you can take all the time in the world to do so. Once you sever the cord, you have a few choices on how to tie it:

  • umbilical cord clamp
  • umbilical cord ring
  • dental floss or tape
  • string

If you wait long enough (and I recommend you do), there shouldn’t be much blood. The placenta will be limp and white, and it should be easy to tighten a string or dental tape around it. Most people advise against dental floss and recommend dental tape instead. Umbilical cord clamps are also easy to use, and umbilical cord rings usually come with instructions for those who purchase them.

Where to Find Supplies

You can find umbilical cord clamps at Amazon. But if you’re looking for umbilical cord rings, you’re going to have to rely on your friendly search engine to help you out. When I searched for these recently, I had a hard time finding them. Plus, some online stores will require a minimum order in order to let you make a purchase, and one umbilical cord ring is probably not going to meet that minimum amount. But as long as start looking ahead of time, you shouldn’t have any problem with finding what you want.

Burning the Cord

I have briefly mentioned it before, but instead of cutting the cord, some people burn it. Fire is actually a natural way to cauterize the umbilical cord. And in areas where it’s impossible to find sterilized scissors, burning the cord is definitely preferable to trying to smash it with a rock. That being said, modern mothers find the process of burning the cord to be a calming ritual. Burning the cord can be done safely as long as there enough people to help with the process. Obviously, you don’t want to burn either the baby or the mother. Nor do you want to set the room on fire.