Cutting the Cord

They’re asking me if I want to cut the umbilical cord…

by Joe Kita

In an uneventful delivery this is the most you’ll be asked to do, so we recommend seizing the opportunity and getting involved. After all, this is your chance to cut the cord that gives your son or daughter independence. (Cherish it now because later in life after they graduate college and move back home it’ll become nearly impossible to do.)

To insure that you do an exemplary job, here are some tips from Bryan Wood, MD, who in the course of his professional and personal life (father of 11), has cut more cord than a Yukon lumberjack:

Relax: There are no nerves in the umbilical cord. This will not hurt the mother, the baby, or (if you’re careful) you. In fact, there’s really no way you can screw this up. “It’s not technical, and it doesn’t require any expertise or practice,” says Dr. Wood. “You could use a machete if you wanted.” (Although packing that in the overnight bag could upset the orderlies.)

Expect some resistance: You’ll be handed a pair of scissors and told to cut between two clamps, generally about a foot away from the baby’s soon-to-be bellybutton. Snip as directed, but expect it to take some effort. “It’ll feel like you’re cutting through rubber or gristly steak,” says Dr. Wood.

Watch out for projectile fluid: Hold your free hand over the area being cut. This will shield you from getting sprayed with blood and fluid should any still be in there.

Don’t get carried away: After you’re done, the baby will have a few inches of cord hanging from its stomach. Don’t trim any more. It will eventually dry up and fall off. In the meantime, resist the urge to use it as a handle.

And that’s it.

Ask if you can keep the scissors.

Have them bronzed.