Placenta Delivery - The Third Stage of Birth

After a vaginal delivery, you still have one more stage of childbirth to get through – the third stage – the delivery of the placenta.

The normal process is that, with 30 – 60 minutes following the birth, the body produces further contractions to expel the placenta and it should come out naturally.

This third stage of pregnancy should be thought about before the birth so you are prepared for what happens. You may also like to decide what you do with your placenta.


What Happens When Your Body Expels Your Placenta?

  • The body naturally produces the hormone oxytocin after birth which causes the uterus to contract and push out the placenta.
  • This natural process could take anything from five minutes to one hour.
  • Alternatively the nurse or midwife will help to massage the front of your stomach and pull the cord gently to help the placenta detach from the lining of the womb.
  • A further option is an injection to speed up the delivery of the placenta. This is an option available to you or the medical staff may recommend it, if your body does not start the process automatically.

During a c-section, the placenta will be removed as part of the operation.

My First Birth Experience

Just like with after-pains, no prenatal classes taught me about the delivery of the placenta and the different options you could choose from for delivering it. It came as a surprise to me after my first birth, that I was then asked to push a few more times whilst the nurse pulled on the cord. I felt like it ripped out and it was followed by a huge gush of blood that splashed all over the floor. I was not at all prepared for the delivery of the placenta or the options available to me.

What Will You Do With Your Placenta?

Have you decided what you would like to do with your placenta? Eat it? Bury it? Make it into tablets? Or just give it to the hospital to dispose of?

Do we really know what happens to our placentas if we ask the hospital to “dispose” of it?

I hadn’t given the idea any thought during my first pregnancy. Since then, I have learnt a lot more around the topic and I am sure I would choose to do it differently. More on this topic soon!