The umbilical cord connects a baby in the womb to its mother. It runs from an opening in your baby’s stomach to the placenta in the womb. The average cord is about 50cm (20in) long. Between 5 and 15 days, after your baby is born, the umbilical stump will dry out, turn black and drop off. After the stump comes off, it usually takes about 7 to 10 days for the belly button to heal completely.
The umbilical cord carries oxygen and nutrients from the placenta into your baby’s bloodstream.
The umbilical cord is made up of:
- 1 vein that carries blood rich in oxygen and nutrients from you to your baby
- 2 arteries that return deoxygenated blood and waste products, such as carbon dioxide, from your baby back to the placenta
Towards the end of your pregnancy, the placenta passes antibodies through the umbilical cord from you to your baby. These give your baby immunity from infections for about 3 months after birth. However, it only passes on antibodies you already have.