Cutting the Umbilical Cord After Birth

Cutting the Umbilical Cord of a Newborn Baby
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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 another family member. Your doula can even cut the cord if you wish.

Steps to Cut the Umbilical Cord

  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 whoever handed them to you.


Use these tips for cutting the umbilical cord:

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

Additional Considerations

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, in which the cord is left attached to the placenta until it naturally separates from the navel in three to 10 days.
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  1. McDonald  SJ, Middleton  P, Dowswell  T, Morris  PS. Effect of timing of umbilical cord clamping of term infants on maternal and neonatal outcomes. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD004074. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004074.pub3.