Giving birth is one, if not the most important moments of our lives. It’s one of those moments where medicine and miracle merge into one joyful thing: a new life.

Although giving birth is universal – in some cultures and countries, like Mali, Algeria or China, births are sacred with specific rituals. One of them is closely related to the umbilical cord, believed to have magical powers and used in certain rites.

For more close countries, like the one in the West, the umbilical cord is usually thrown away and, until it falls, may be an issue for the mother. So, what does this umbilical cord do?

It supplies nutrients and oxygen to your developing baby during pregnancy; after your baby is born, the umbilical cord is no longer needed, so it’s clamped and snipped.

The Newborn's Umbilical Cord

During this procedure, your baby won’t feel a thing because the umbilical cord doesn’t contain pain-sensitive nerves. Make sure you keep that stump clean and dry (it heals faster).

Remember to resist the temptation to pull off the stump yourself, even if it’s hanging on by only a thread. Before the umbilical cord stump falls by its own, it will change from yellowish green to brown to black as it dries out and eventually falls off – usually within two weeks after birth.

It has been recently discovered, by researchers at the University of Minnesota, that the effects of stroke in lab rats can be reversed, using stem cells found in human umbilical cord blood. So, the umbilical cord might have greater importance than expected. It can save lives in the future. Meanwhile, good luck with all.