The role of parents in the birth of a child has changed drastically in the last 50 years.
While it was once common for a male parent to stay in the waiting room until labor and delivery were complete, that’s now the exception. With increases in open adoptions and surrogacy, more than one non-birthing parent may be in the delivery room actively participating in the birth as much as possible.
But just because active participation is now the norm, that doesn’t mean every parent is up to every task.
An expectant couple differed on their birthing roles, so a father-to-be turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.
“AITA for refusing to cut the umbilical cord?”
The original poster (OP) explained:
“My wife is full term and being induced tomorrow. I told her quite early on that I didn’t want to cut the cord.”
“I know it’s just me and that I’m making it weird, but I find it really squeamish to cut into human flesh. It seems like a medical procedure, and I’m REALLY uncomfortable with it.”
“My wife appeared to accept my decision at the time but under protest.”
“Now the big day is upon us, my wife has pressed the issue again. I told her I want to be involved in every way I can, including catching the baby and handing him or her (we don’t know the sex) to their new mum.”
“I feel that my wife has a Hollywood idea of birth, including that I cut the cord.”
“She also wants me to get in the [birthing] shower with her and rub her back during labor, which she saw on a Netflix show.”
*Editors Note: hydrotherapy birth methods include labor and delivery taking place under a continuous shower of warm water on the back and/or belly
“I’ve asked why the cord is so important to her and she couldn’t say.”
“We’ve come a long way but surely dad’s don’t have to acquiesce to every whim and fancy of modern ideas of ‘getting involved’.”
“Men used to sit in the waiting room if they were there at all. I’m glad that’s changed but not so glad about Dad being expected to cut tissue.”
“I think popular culture is the only reason she wants me to do it because, on multiple occasions, she couldn’t tell me why it was important to her. I’d have approached the decision differently if she had given me her reasons.”
The OP returned to answer some questions.
“The squeamishness is only about the cutting. I am a first responder, so I’ve seen every kind of gore you can think of. Blood, guts, screaming, etc… I am used to these things.”
“I’m a cop. Give me an active armed offender over cutting human tissue connected to my newborn any day of the week. Both are very, very different things.”
“I’ve had my (gloved) fingers in gunshot wounds before (under paramedic instruction) while the gauze plugs were being rapidly put in.”
“I’ve also been showered by an arterial bleed, but I still got in there and applied pressure. I’ve done CPR on an unwashed homeless person. I turn up and do my duty.”
“It’s hard for me to explain. I just know I don’t want to cut human tissue connected to my wife and new baby.”
“I know logically it doesn’t hurt baby or mum, but logic isn’t helping me come to grips with the cutting part.”
“It just doesn’t feel right wielding a knife or scissors with such a fragile creature. I want to leave it to the experts.”
“I don’t want to get in the [birthing] shower but I will because it’s a reasonable request, and it’s a way I can compromise given my feelings about the cord.”
“In the west, men have only joined the delivery room quite recently. I guess what I was trying to point out is that a typical movie of a birth post-1990 doesn’t mean ‘that is how it’s done now, no arguments.'”
“Both parties should decide what’s best for them.”
The OP summed up why they might be the a**hole.
“1) Refusing to cut the umbilical cord after the birth of my child.”
“2) My wife wants me to cut the cord and says it’s important to her but hasn’t explained why.”
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors were split between there being no a**holes here (NAH) and the OP being the only non-a**hole (NTA) but didn’t really fault the wife.
“My husband didn’t cut the cord either. I don’t blame him, to be perfectly honest.”
“I’d have rathered not been in close proximity myself.”
“Sh*t like this doesn’t matter. It’s showing up day after day and being an involved parent that counts. NAH.” ~ LottieOD
“NTA. My husband didn’t want to with our son, and I was fine with that. When it all happened, though, the doctor asked him, and he just did it sort of out of shock and probably feeling like he should.”
“He said it was a lot more like jelly than he expected lol. He delivered our daughter on the bathroom floor by himself. I’m pretty sure the paramedics asked him if he wanted to. I can’t remember if he did.”
“Also, I did NOT want to be touched, spoken to, or looked at during my first labor. Your wife might end up feeling that way.”
“Birth is honestly really fu’ked up. I don’t know how else to put it. Whatever way it happens, it’s going to be messy, bloody, and kind of violent.”
“I suggest no one goes into it with any real expectations or big hopes about what might happen. I’ve seen so many people be depressed about their birth ‘experience’ when the important thing is for everyone to come out alive and as unscathed as possible.”
“My husband stepped in my actual sh*t, and my amniotic fluid exploded all over him when my daughter came out. He didn’t care at the time, even though that’s obviously f’ked.
“You might not mind cutting the cord. You might still say no. You might not even get the opportunity to either way.”
“Just be there for each other and know how absolutely f’king terrifying the idea of giving birth is for someone. The person giving birth has so little control over anything that is going to happen or when that the little things they can control can really matter.” ~ Twallot
“NAH. It’s unfortunate that you aren’t able to do one of the things she is dreaming of, but you aren’t. Both of you are communicating clearly, so there won’t be any surprises, and you don’t have much time. It is what it is.”
“Also—have the two of you discussed what will happen if she ends up needing a Caesarean? Sometimes, they let the partner stay in the room—if you think that will be too uncomfortable for you, maybe discuss that ahead of time, and get out before you faint or vomit.”
“Or what happens if she and the baby get split up for a bit after the birth? Will she want you to stay with her or go to the baby? Have you seen pictures/video of placentas so you’re prepared for that part?”
“If the two of you get a chance to tell them at the hospital about your wishes/priorities, do speak directly to the medical personnel and whoever is listening to/recording/reading your birth plan, and tell them that although you know your wife wishes it, sadly you will not be able to cut the cord.”
“The part about rubbing her back while she stands under hot water seems pretty straightforward, though. Just take some swim trunks and a towel and flip-flops to the hospital (so you aren’t ever walking barefoot on hospital floors, and you aren’t risking slipping and falling.) Do you have an issue with that one too?”
“Where possible, be gentle with her and be flexible with each other. Where that is not possible, forgive each other.” ~ serioushobbit
“NTA. If you don’t want to cut human flesh, especially if you feel that is a violent action to do towards another person or it is a medical procedure, then you shouldn’t.” ~ Stuckbetweenfriends4
“NAH. Of course, you don’t have to.”
“She probably is just looking for more ways to share the experience with you. She’s literally doing all of the work, maybe from her perspective, you doing that means you’re taking a more active role.”
“I doubt it’ll matter at all at the moment because there will be an actual baby, which is way more exciting than cutting the cord.” ~ ThrowRAzilla
“NTA. I’ve never met a single person whose birth plan went how they thought, from both big and little changes. But having one is comforting at a time of high stress and pain.”
“I wouldn’t argue about this with your (very pregnant!) wife if you don’t have to—you know her wishes, she knows yours. No need to debate it.”
“But decline and help her cuddle the baby while the cord is cut.”
“I hope everything goes fabulously for all 3 of you!” ~ CheckIntelligent7828
“NAH. We all have a vision of how we’d like the birth to go. Can’t blame her for that.”
“But I don’t blame you for not wanting to cut the cord either. My husband wanted to, but he was very shaky both times, and it freaked him out.”
“But now he gets to point to the kids’ belly buttons and say, ‘I helped make that!’.”
“They will ask you if you want to cut it in the delivery room. Just say ‘no’.”
“She’ll be busy and probably won’t even notice you didn’t do it. I didn’t watch my husband do it either time.”
“I was getting stitches. Trust me, she is not going to be worrying about this after the baby is here.” ~ Redditor
“NTA—If you’re not comfortable literally cutting the cord, I think the last thing that should be between you and your newborn is essentially a very sharp knife.” ~ okIhaveANopinionHERE
The OP returned to provide two updates.
“Thanks so much for all your comments. I believe I have read all of them.
“We are planning to do delayed cord clamping so I could hold Bubs, and she could cut the cord while I hold her other hand and control the camera remote as she would like a photo of it.”
“I have a DSLR camera and tripod that will be taking photos with a remote switch I have (after the birth) so the whole fam can be in them.”
“Some of you suggested this, many thanks.”
Then he later added:
“A healthy baby boy!”
“Mum is recovering from a difficult labor that ended in an emergency cesarean.”
“All this talk of the cord—it was twice wrapped around the baby’s neck, so it was cut by the medical team in the end.”
“Thank you to everyone for helping me with this issue and your stories and words of support.”
It appears it became much ado about nothing in the end for this birth, but if the couple plans to have more children, they might want to revisit this discussion sooner rather than later.
Congratulations and best wishes to the newly expanded family.