Ferg vs Lewy: To Cut or Not to Cut?


Following the birth of your child, you may be faced with a big decision – to cut or not to cut.

No, this isn’t another story about circumcision. As far as I’m concerned that’s between you, your God, your penis and more importantly, your son’s penis.

No, this is about cutting the umbilical cord. I must admit, I don’t get it. I’ve tried but I just don’t get it. It feels to me like a strangely superficial gesture to make dad feel slightly more involved in the birthing process. But why?

It’s like your mechanic inviting you to tighten the wheel nuts or put the bonnet down after your service. Or a chef inviting you into the kitchen to turn your steak so you’ll feel more involved in the process than you really were. It’s not real.

I kind of get the need to offer dads a sense of involvement in the birth, but does cutting the cord really provide that?

We’ve come a long way from the days where dad used to sit in the waiting room smoking cigars, but beyond forgetting all the things we were shown in Lamaze class, dad’s role in the birthing suite is really ensuring he doesn’t annoy his partner, midwives or obstetrician. Picking the right music, pouring a glass of water here and providing a shoulder rub there is pretty much it as far as I’m concerned. I prefer to leave the medical-type stuff to the medical-type people.

Maybe my lack of understanding comes from a general disinterest in blood and guts. I made the mistake of heading too far south during my son’s crowning and quickly headed back north for another round of shoulder rubs.

Sometimes you just do things. This particularly applies to blokes and their involvement in the birth of their children.


Sometimes you just do things. This particularly applies to blokes and their involvement in the birth of their children.

Getting your better half to the hospital safely.

Rubbing her shoulder.

Fetching her drinks.

Letting her squeeze the shit out of your hand as she spends hours trying to expel what you helped put in there.

So, too, the umbilical cord. You do it because it’s what dads do and because the obstetrician asks you to.

You do it without thinking because – unless the sight of umbilical cords causes you irreparable mental anguish – it’s just another gesture.

At the conclusion of Edie’s traumatic 15-hour birth, with our daughter blue from a lack of oxygen and seconds away from being rushed across the room to the respirator, our doctor handed me a large pair of scissors, and, with an aggressive clip to his voice, ordered me to make the cut, which I did, as if in a dream.

Even with the uncertainty and craziness of the delivery ward in that moment, I can vividly remember the deed; the scissors cutting through that taut, magenta-coloured rope.

It’s strange, I can’t remember snipping free my second and third daughters – and these were uneventful stress-free births. Tash has no recollection, either. Maybe I did make the cuts sub-consciously, but I’m almost certain the doctor did the job without asking.

Maybe he wasn’t the ceremonial type, or perhaps he sensed that it didn’t matter much to me either way.  Which it didn’t. I was just happy that my babies were healthy.

As for that other daddy-specific cut – well, that’s another story.

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