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I accidentally tugged on the umbilical stump of my newborn baby while changing his diaper, and now he's crying and it's bleeding a little. Have I hurt my baby?

I'm adding this question (and an answer) because I think it's a good fact to know. It would be cool if others can add more information.

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There's no nerves in the stump, but the skin where it's attached (what later becomes the bellybutton) does have nerves. I'd expect something that causes bleeding will hurt a bit. – Lennart Regebro Aug 3 '11 at 9:18
My son's stump came off during a particularly difficult diaper change. It was difficult because he was flailing his arms so wildly that he punched his stump, breaking it off. However, before it could start bleeding too much, he then both peed and vomited all over his navel before we had a chance to react. It bothered my wife and I a lot worse than it did my son! – Beofett Aug 3 '11 at 12:12
up vote 6 down vote accepted

You might have hurt him a little, but not permanently. Your hair and nails are also dead tissue, but it still hurts if someone yanks on them, because of what they're attached to.

At any rate, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Parents occasionally do things that hurt their children, either accidentally or intentionally but unavoidably, like medical procedures. It's best to think about how you might avoid it in the future, but then forgive yourself and move on. Your baby certainly has already forgotten and moved on.

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The baby isn't hurt.

The umbilical stump doesn't have any nerves, so the baby cannot feel pain there. The baby might have been crying by coincidence, or because it sensed the parent's anxiety. (Source: our midwife)

If the bleeding is just a tiny amount, let it be or carefully wipe it away. If it's more, carefully clean it up with clean water.

The stump usually falls off by itself within a week or two the most, so you may have inadvertently helped it a little.

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