Soon after your baby is born, the doctor will turn to you, scissors in hand, and ask “do you want to cut the cord?” Many dads/non-gestating parents (we will use the two interchangeably throughout) jump at this opportunity and, for those who have hired us, we do our best to take a photo of this moment. But what if you don’t want to? I’ll be honest, the pressure to ‘cut the cord’ is real. But you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to or are uncomfortable doing.
We always hear about “Mom Guilt” – whether surrounding an epidural, feeding their baby, returning to work – but “Dad Guilt” is real, too. It hasn’t happened often, but it is discouraging to be in the delivery room with a new family and have the nurse press, “come on. Do it!” We need to realize that we are all adults who are capable of making our decisions. We need to stop guilting parents for choosing differently than we would. Our decision is right for us and their decision is right for them. I’ll step down from my soapbox now.
“I don’t want to cut the cord”
Now that you’ve made your decision, let’s talk logistics. We know that, at some point, the cord will have to be cut. Since the default in our society is the partner you will need to let the nurse and/or doctor know your plans. I definitely recommend making your wishes known early and frequent so nobody tries to push the issue when baby is born. What do I mean by that? Two things:
- Have your partner inform her doctors who will be cutting the cord when she has her prenatal appointments.
- Let the nurse know upon admission. Ask her to put it in the chart and remind the new nurse at shift changes.
Who can cut the cord? Well, anyone really. Families where the baby’s other parent won’t be cutting the cord may choose one of the following people:
- baby’s mother
- parent or sibling of the baby’s parents
What do I say?
Be straight forward. It can be as simple as, “we have decided that [insert person’s name or title] will be cutting the baby’s cord when the time comes.” Do not be surprised if you hear, “you’ll change your mind when the time comes.” Let the doctor or nurse know that you have been thinking about this for awhile, are secure in your decision, and appreciate their support. You are informing them of your decision, not discussing it with them. Conversely, it is also fine to let her know you’re alright with being asked once after delivery but to please not push it if your answer does not change.