Eli5: why is a part of the umbilical cord left on a newborn baby? Why not just cut it all the way to where the belly button will be?

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Eli5: why is a part of the umbilical cord left on a newborn baby? Why not just cut it all the way to where the belly button will be?

In: Biology
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It falls off naturally in a few days. If you cut too close, you risk hurting this process and damaging the baby. It is normal to leave a stump so this can occur naturally and correctly.

When cutting the cord, you need to place a clamp of some kind between baby and where you cut (best practice used to be two clamps baby side, one placenta side, and cut between them, but I haven’t seen that pushed for a while).

You do this to stop massive bleeding, which is bad for babies. Obviously, you need to have space to place the clamp(s), so you physically couldn’t cut right up to the umbilicus.

Once you’ve tried to cut a thick flesh tube off a wriggling baby having spent the previous 12 hours without sleep or food while your partner screams, you’ll understand why they keep a decent gap between the child and your scissors.

Where the belly button starts and the umbilical cord ends is not exactly clear and you wouldn’t want to risk damaging the part of them that will be attached for the rest of their life

I could go into more detail but I’m explaining like I did to my four year old who asked this exact same question

In addition to what other people have said, in sick/premature babies, the umbilical cord can be used to give medications and fluids. You need a fair bit of cord left to do this. I’m a midwife and if I think there’s a chance the baby will need this, I leave an extra bit of cord there just in case