Cutting the Umbilical Cord

The labor and delivery is over, you're a dad to a new baby, and you are presented with the opportunity to cut the umbilical cord. Dads, do you cut the cord? Or do you let the doctor do it? In this episode of The Lab, DadLabs talks with OBGYN Dr. Karen Jaffe about the process of cutting the umbilical cord. Daddy Clay and Daddy Brad share their cord cutting experiences. If you have thoughts about cutting the cord, let us know by dropping a comment on this video or visiting us at DadLabs Ep. 672 is brought to you by BabyBjorn.
Daddy Clay: To cut or not to cut. It's dad's umbilical conundrum today in The Lab.
Daddy Brad: Today's episode is brought to you by BabyBjorn. You know you want to cut the umbilical cord before your put the baby in the baby carrier. Oexo-Tek certified, safe for your baby, BabyBjorn.
Daddy Clay: So the hard work of the delivery is done, mom's given birth to the baby, when the doctor turns to you and says. Do you step up? What's the story here? How exactly does it work? And are all the guys doing it?
Daddy Brad: These are the type of questions that DadLabs is built to ask and to find the answer, we go and ask the experts.
Dr. Karen Jaffe: I'm not sure I've ever been asked that question. We always ask, do you want to cut the cord, and the answer is yes. But I've never really asked them if they really want to cut the cord. And I guess that maybe many of them do cut the cord that maybe didn't want to cut the cord. But they've made an agreement with their wife that they're cutting that cord. It's funny because they usually jump in a little bit too fast as if they're gonna help us do the delivery. They're a little bit anxious about it. What's interesting is occasionally you'll have a dad who didn't get to cut the cord the first time and he feels that he wants to try it the second time or vice versa. They cut the cord the first time and now they don't want to. So I have to remind them that if they're gonna do that little game that they shouldn't tell their child they didn't cut that cord. Once the baby's delivered, and I'll place the first clamp and then the second clamp, so two clamps have been placed on the umbilical cord. It's a big silver clamp and it just clamps on either side so it's a big stiff clamp. And there's about a 2-inch piece of cord in between and the cord's pretty thick. It's about almost an inch in diameter across depending on the kid. Some big fat kids have even bigger ones. And I hand them the pair of scissors. So they're not really holding anything except the scissors. They don't have to hold the cord or anything. They have to cut it and typically they have to cut it like 5 times to get it all the way through because they're nervous and they're not gonna take just one big snip. They're gonna take a bunch of little snips. And so they kind of saw at it a little bit. But they always get through it and it always is fine. They can't hurt anything. They can't cause any harm. And so it's kind of fun, they feel like they've participated. But some of them don't want to do it. You ask them and they say, "No that is your job. You're the surgeon. Don't ask me to do it." And I try not to egg them on too much because they're clearly not prepared to do it nor do they want to do it and that would not be a good thing. You know, i encourage them to do it. I think it helps them participate. They've been there the whole day. They've watched this baby come out. It's an amazing experience to see your child born and then to go ahead and cut the umbilical cord is the icing on the cake.
Daddy Brad: Here's the deal, if I'm in court, I'm gonna get a lawyer to represent me. If I've got a bum tooth, I'm gonna get the dentist to work on it. I am not cutting the cord. I'm gonna hire a doctor to cut the cord.
Daddy Clay: So you have not done that for any of your children?
Daddy Brad: No, why would I do that?
Daddy Clay: Well how about the people that say, "Step up. This is the only thing that you participate in in the whole process of labor and delivery. Why would you not do this?"
Daddy Brad: That is crazy. As if holding scissors and cutting for about two seconds is gonna make up for the pain and suffering my wife has gone through. I'm there dude. I'm holding the legs. I'm doing the breathing coaching.
Daddy Clay: Do you think that women actually even notice?
Daddy Brad: No.
Daddy Clay: Given what they've just been through. I doubt they even notice. And I have to say I did cut the cord one time, and I have umbilical regret. When I actually was confronted with it, they hand you the scissors, you go up there, and you think it's gonna be like a loose flexible tube which fed the baby pablum all during - no. This is a braided, ropey, blue, alien-looking. They give you the surgical scissors. These aren's just like, you're not using those dulled Elmer's Glue scissors that your kids have in elementary school. You get in there it's like cutting someone's finger off. And you really have to squeeze and finally it kind of gives a little pop, and it gives a little snap when you finally get all the way through it. I'm not sure that moms or women or anybody would say this somehow enhances or makes your participation in the birth process more full. If it makes you feel good, if it makes you feel participatory, if you really like separating your wife from the baby, you feel that's your role, then I say step up and do it. For me, I did it and I kind of wish I hadn't. I wish I could give that experience back.
Daddy Brad: Medical profession. Let them handle the medical stuff.
Daddy Clay: If you've got an opinion, please share it with us. Drop a comment on this video and let us know. Are you a cord cutter? Are you not? Why? Was that a significant experience for you? Or do you think we're total idiots for having stepped away from that responsibility ourselves? We do want to hear from you. You'll hear from us here on the video or on
Daddy Brad: We'd like to thank our sponsor BabyBjorn. Oexo-Tek certified, safe for your baby, BabyBjorn. Well that's it for us here in the DadLab. We're cutting out.

written by Andrew, August 20, 2010
First baby was a C-Sect so no chord cutting.
Second one was a VBAC and I did cut the chord, though
I have no memory of it. I don't think it was a big deal to me, my wife, or the Midwife.

I will say this, while we guys are not going through the stresses of delivery, do not discount your role as helping and supporting your wife through it. It's important.
My wife couldn't tell you much of what I did that day ( especially at the end ) but she knows that she made it because I was there with her. ( and the Doula )
It was an incredible bonding experience for us as a couple.

Clay Nichols
Thanks Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital
written by Clay Nichols, August 20, 2010
Again, thanks so much to the great people at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio for sharing their amazing expertise with us. Learn more about them here:
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