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.

  • 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. Aug 3, 2011 at 9:18
  • 5
    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!
    – user420
    Aug 3, 2011 at 12:12

3 Answers 3


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.


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.


These answers are mixed. From personal experience and knowledge, yes it can certainly cause the baby some pain, i know this first hand, ours was about to fall off at the doctor's office and later in the night it pulled out and was hanging on by a thread, so i snipped it off (with sterile scissors) and she was immediately better. Just checking over your baby can help tremendously, know yoir little one! Everything will be okay, and good luck! P. S. I do NOT condone removing the cord yourself and absolutely do not pull it, i am a trained professional.

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