How Your Partner Can Catch Your Baby

Dad helps catch his baby after a water birth

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In a time 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, who she wants to cut the cord.

The version of who wants to cut the cord at today’s births is who will help catch the baby. Catching babies has been done at home births for a very long time. It can be called a lot of things:

  • three-handed catch
  • assisting with the birth
  • daddy catch

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


Many dads and partners really enjoy this special moment. They talk about being the first one to touch the baby from the outside world and of being a true part of the experience. IF you know that your partner is going to have skin to skin contact right after birth and that it might be a while before you get to hold your baby, being able to help lift the newborn to her chest can mean a lot.

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 sort of 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 the placenta. This is a chance for you to sneak up next to mom and baby, snuggling 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 it 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 saw 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 moms 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.

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