Emergency Natural Childbirth Cleansing Infant's Eyes and Umbilical Cord

About emergency natural childbirth and labor, how to cleanse the baby's eyes, cutting the umbilical cord, tips and advice on what to do.

Emergency Childbirth


The infant's eyes should be wiped out, using separate material for each eye and wiping from the inside to the outside. Where ampules of one percent silver nitrate are available, 2 drops of the medication should be placed in the conjunctival sac, not directly on the cornea. This may be done immediately after birth or delayed until the placenta has been delivered and the mother cleaned. Where silver nitrate, one percent, is not available, note this fact on the records so that this protective procedure may be accomplished as soon as possible. This measure is essential in order to prevent the possibility of an eye defect should the mother have a gonorrheal infection, and is required by law.


Tying and Cutting the Cord. There should be no hurry to cut the cord. Take as much time as necessary to prepare the ties and sharp instruments.

About 5 minutes after the baby is born the umbilical cord will cease to pulsate. Tie the cord with sterile tape in 2 places, one about 4" from the baby and the other 2" farther along the cord toward the mother. Use a square knot; tighten slowly and evenly so as not to cut the cord. Do not tie the cord too tightly, as it is quite soft and may tear. Take the loose ends of the material and tie another knot on the other side. The placenta end is not as important as the end attached to the child.

Cut the cord between these 2 ties with a clean sharp instrument such as a knife, razor blade, or scissors. If the cord continues to bleed, fold it over and tie again.

A sterile dressing about 4" square should be placed over the cut end of the cord at the baby's navel and should be held in place by wrapping a "belly band" or folded diaper around the baby. If a sterile dressing is not available, no dressing or belly band should be used. Regardless of whether a dressing is applied, no solution, powder, or disinfectant of any kind should be put on the cord or navel.

If the afterbirth has not yet been expelled, the end of the umbilical cord now protruding from the vagina may be covered with a sterile dressing.

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