How Your Partner Can Catch Your Baby

Dad helps catch his baby after a water birth

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Not so long ago, having someone cut the cord was considered to be a bit "out there." Now it is nearly universal that every mother at least considers, even if only for a moment, whom she wants to cut the cord.

The version of who wants to cut the cord in today’s births is who will help catch the baby. Catching babies has been part of home births for a very long time. It may be referred to as:

  • The three-handed catch
  • Assisting with the birth
  • The daddy catch

What you call it doesn’t matter; it's about the act of having someone help the baby being born.


Many partners really enjoy this special opportunity to catch the infant. They talk about being the first one to touch the baby from the outside world and being a true part of the experience. If the non-birthing partner knows that the birthing mother is planning to have immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth and that it might be a while before the non-birthing partner gets to hold the newborn, being able to help lift the baby to the mother's chest can provide a special moment of connection and bonding.

How It Works

How the catch happens depends on many factors, most importantly safety. The practitioner you’ve hired never leaves your side, constantly monitoring what’s going on, ready to tell you to step aside at any moment. You’re told step by step what to do and how to do it.

It will also largely depend on the comfort level of the practitioner. The three-handed catch could merely mean you have a gloved hand near the baby as the baby is lifted up to mom, or it could mean you have washed but bare hands and do almost everything except check for a nuchal cord. Communication is the key.

Once the baby is safely on mom, you can move out of the way and let the doctor or midwife finish up, including helping with the birth of the placenta and cutting the cord. This is a chance for you to snuggle up to mom and baby, bonding with them as a family. You can also take photos or do whatever you would like to do at this point.

Talk to Your Practitioner Early

If this is something that you even remotely want to talk about with your practitioner, start now. Do not wait until labor starts. Once you figure out what your plans are, ask how you need to remind them or what to look for at the birth. They may ask you to write your wishes in your birth plan or to remind them at some point that this is what you are planning to do.

As a doula, I used to see this only at home births. Gradually I started to see it in the hospital, but only with midwives at that location. Now I see it in a fair number of births with a wide variety of practitioners.

There are also many mothers who choose to catch their own baby, though that’s not the topic for this article. If this is something that interests you, be sure to talk to your midwife or doctor about how this works.

1 Source
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  1. Chen EM, Gau ML, Liu CY, Lee TY. Effects of Father-Neonate Skin-to-Skin Contact on Attachment: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nurs Res Pract. 2017;2017:8612024. doi:10.1155/2017/8612024

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.