The third stage of labour happens once the baby has been born and is when the placenta is delivered. Lets just take a moment to pay homage to the placenta – it is an organ that is compatible with two sets of DNA (yours and the babys father), it acts as a gland secreting hormones throughout your pregnancy, it supplies oxygen, filters your babys kidney, both yours and your babys blood passes through it and never mix, it passes fetal cells back into your body to fix you if you’re sick, and then when you’ve had the baby – you get rid of it!
Contractions should resume a few minutes after the baby has been born and you may feel the urge to push once again. Medical staff may massage your stomach or gently pull the cord to help get it out. Early breastfeeding also helps to expel the placenta as nipple stimulation releases oxytocin which in turn causes uterine contractions. Once the placenta has been delivered you can ask to see it (after all its helped keep your baby alive all this time!). Medical staff will then check it to make sure it is complete and nothing has been left behind. If there is any doubt then an ultrasound will be used to check. Once the placenta has been delivered and found to be intact than any tears will be sewn up.
Active management of the third stage
This is when a hormonal drug such as ergonovine maleate, synthetic oxytocin or syntocinon is injected into you to manage the third stage. The reason that a lot of hospitals want to manage this stage is to minimise the risk of excessive blood loss. These drugs helps the uterus contract and whilst it is contracted there is not likely to be much bleeding. They are given through an injection usually when the baby’s head has been born. Following the birth of the placenta you can feel very cold and shivery but this should soon pass. If you feel bruised or sore around your vagina and perineum then ask for a ice pack to help bring the swelling down. You will also be wearing a sanitary pad and disposable underwear.