How To Cut an Umbilical Cord

Cutting the Umbilical Cord of a Newborn Baby
Photo © Cultura/Getty Images

Cutting the cord can be a joyous moment in a person's life. Being able to symbolically break the link from the internal womb world to extrauterine life. This is something that people have given a lot of thought to in recent years, with many more moms and their partners deciding to help take part in the birth. Some partners decide to help "catch" the baby in a process often called a three handed catch, but this can also be a part of that or done separately.


Sometimes a mother will decide to cut the cord. This process works the same whether it's the mother, the father, a sibling, or other family member. I have even had one client who asked me as the doula to cut the cord. 

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 5 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Be sure the cord has stopped pulsing for most births. This is called delayed cord clamping and provides benefits for your baby.
  2. Ensure that there are two clamps on the cord. (The practitioner will be responsible for this part.)
  3. Hold the section of cord to be cut with a piece of gauze under it.
  4. Using sterile scissors cut between the two clamps.
  5. Dab excess blood. (The amount of blood depends on how long you wait to cut the cord, the longer you wait, the less blood.)
  6. Place scissors away or hand them back to whomever handed them to you.


  1. The gauze keeps excess blood from splattering.
  2. Remind everyone that mom and baby can't feel the cord being cut.
  1. The cord is thicker and harder to cut, more like meat gristle. Don't be surprised.

What You Need:

  • A newborn baby
  • Sterile scissors
  • Gauze
  • Doctor or midwife

When you might not be able to cut the cord:

  • In the event of a cesarean birth
  • If the cord needs to be cut before the baby is fully born
  • If the mother doesn't want anyone else to do it
  • If the mother has chosen to have a lotus birth