safe motherhood



When to cut the cord

If you have had a drug (for example, syntometrine) to speed up the delivery of the placenta, your midwife will clamp your baby's cord as soon as he is born, and then cut it. This is to prevent the drug transfusing into your baby. If you have decided to let the delivery of the placenta happen naturally, the cord will not be clamped. While the baby is still attached his blood will transfuse back to him from the placenta. When this process is complete the cord will stop pulsating and be limp and lifeless and can then be clamped and cut.

Who should cut the cord

If you would like to, you or your partner could cut the cord.

Some parents like to cut the cord themselves. It is a ritual that symbolises for them the baby's passage from the womb to the outside world. Cutting the cord marks the end of the very special relationship the baby has had with his mother during pregnancy, and the start of a new life where he will have relationships with many different people.

It's best to talk to your partner before labour begins about whether he would like to cut the cord. He might be delighted by the idea, or very firmly decline!


If your baby's cord is wound tightly round his neck, your midwife will cut it as soon as he is born. And you won't have a choice about cutting the cord if your baby needs urgent medical attention, and has to be examined immediately by the paediatrician (baby doctor).

'Nadeem was really into cutting the cord, but the baby wasn't well when he was born and everything happened very quickly. His cord was cut before we knew it and he was whisked away. Afterwards, we agreed that not being able to cut the cord was totally irrelevant compared to the relief that our baby was finally OK!'