The Third Stage of Labour

Bayo Ajibola

The Third Stage of Labour and other Stages of Labour


The Third Stage of Labour and other Stages of Labour

You went into labour and had your baby. Congratulations mama! Don’t close your eyes just yet because it’s not yet over. Many think that it ends when the baby pops out but the journey isn’t quite complete. There’s something else that comes after delivering a baby and like every other process, it doesn’t necessarily always go as expected. The Third Stage of Labour and other Stages of Labour.

Once the baby is safely out you need to deliver the placenta and all the membranes remaining behind. You can either do this actively or physiologically. The active option is more common, where the mother receives an oxytocin injection when the baby’s first shoulder has emerged. Once the baby is born and the cord is cut, the midwife grips the cord but in a careful and controlled manner. The placenta begins to slowly separate and will generally take about six minutes to come out.

The other way is to do it physiologically which basically means with no external assistance. This entails letting it come out naturally without any injections. You basically have to wait for the placenta to detach and come out. Detaching is the first step but it must then descend and the mother then expels it by squatting, bearing down gently or standing. This last step can last anything from 10 minutes to even one hour. Breastfeeding the baby will help get the placenta detached since it triggers the production of natural oxytocin so it would be advisable to breastfeed the baby soon after delivery.


Health practitioners say that it is critical to deliver the placenta within 30 minutes of giving birth. This is based on evidence that shows the risk of excessive bleeding dramatically increases after 30 minutes. Once this time elapses the midwife should help move the process along, either by putting the baby on the breast or administering an oxytocin injection if the process was physiological (the mother has to agree to this though). The mother needs to have an empty bladder and stay warm. Extreme blood loss can lead to shock.

Retained placenta

A retained placenta is when the placenta isn’t out yet and it’s been 30 minutes after delivering the baby. It happens in about 3.3 percent of all births. The reasons for it occurring include:

  • A small part of placenta adhering to the uterus thus preventing the placenta from fully detaching, known as partial accrete.
  • The uterus failing to contract and help separate the placenta from the uterus wall.
  • Delivering a pre-term baby (less than 37 weeks). The chance of it occurring increase with a preemie that’s less than 27 weeks.
  • The placenta getting trapped in a closed cervix.

If doctors try getting it out and nothing works, they will have to remove it surgically. The placenta must come out because it can cause infection and its work there is done anyway.

If it happens once it can happen again and there is a 17 percent chance that it will. This shouldn’t scare you though because the doctors will have a record of your history this time and they will be prepared in case it happens again.

Birth is never similar, even for the same person. Things can go wrong one time and go smoothly the next and vice versa. What matters is preparedness and staying calm. Prepare yourself psychologically for any occurrence since it could go both ways. Granted, receiving proper care from medical personnel makes it easier to get through the bad situations. You just need to relax and let them do their thing. After all, their focus is ensuring their patient receives proper medical attention and comes out in the best possible health.


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Bayo Ajibola

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