Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Vacation III

While on vacation, I'm not writing new posts. Here's a rerun of a post from February. The OB's at my hospital are still having fathers - and others - cut the cord, so I guess they're not reading my blog.


I feel a little sorry for fathers in the delivery room, because let’s face it, they’re pretty useless there. At best, if they’ve been to a birthing class they can maybe count while their wife or girlfriend breathes or pushes, but any nurse could do that just as well, or perhaps they can give a small amount of emotional support to the mother. At worst, they can foul things up by fainting or needing to be led from the room because they can’t take it anymore. The fact that their wife or girlfriend is doing one of the most difficult human tasks in life – as the saying goes, there’s a reason they call it labor - can only emphasize their feeling of inadequacy. Mind you, I don’t blame the father for this. The delivery room is a new and scary situation for them, and that is compounded by the worry they have for their significant other and child.

Unfortunately, some genius many years ago came up with the idea of making the father feel useful by having them cut the umbilical cord. This has been the bane of neonatologists ever since. We’ll be called to a delivery because there is concern about the baby’s health, perhaps because of meconium stained fluid, maybe because the baby’s heart rate is low, only to have to wait to receive the baby while the father painstakingly cuts the cord. Give us a break, people! If you want us to be there for the baby, then give us the baby as soon as possible.

I’m not sure how cutting the cord is even symbolically important. Is it supposed to mean that now the baby is no longer dependent on the mother alone, but on both parents? If so, then why has the practice spread to include grandmothers, aunts, and other bystanders cutting the cord?

Dads, let the mother have all the attention and glory in the delivery room. They deserve it, and a puny thing like cutting the cord won’t begin to change that. Rest easy with the knowledge that there will be plenty for you to do, and plenty of rewards, in the years ahead. Stick around – too many fathers don’t – the real work of fatherhood is just beginning.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I showed this post to my husband last winter. He was getting "peer pressure" but thanks to your post spoke up to tell the nurses he really did not want to cut the cord when our daughter was born this spring.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neo doc,

this was a great post. I have actually seen this from both perspectives. My son was born just over a year ago and I remember feeling pretty damn useless in the DR.

I have also worked as an RT in the NICU and I have seen the crowds of folks in the DR doing nothing but getting in the way (esepecially in an emergency).

IMHO grandparents (of the newborn and the mom or dad) should stay in the waiting room. And Fathers (as well as most OB's) should know that cutting the cord is way down the list of priorities when there is a concern for the ABC's. And while I'm pontificating (that is such a great word) let's leave the damn videocameras off until the baby is born and the RN placest the dried and swaddled infant in the mother's arms...

Thanks for listening,

Evan PA-S

12:21 PM  
Anonymous maribeth, CNM said...

Wow, this post made me kind of sad. How different things are out of hospital for dads. It can be a true bonding experience. Women labor in their man's arms most of the time. Eyes locked, they breathe together. His hands on her back, with warm oil. We always let either dads announce the gender or let the parents discover it on their own (I strongly feel that's a special moment and doctors steal the glory when they cry out "it's a boy!" or whatever). Dad's hold babies very soon (sometimes skin to skin). When dads cut the cord, I say, 'you joined them together and now you separate them' and it is a special thing. Hey, I know this warm and fuzzy stuff ain't for everyone, and I respect that. But it's pretty special for families that choose it. The birth of a child should be a family event.

1:27 PM  

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