The third stage of labor is delivery of the placenta, also known as afterbirth. After the baby is delivered the placenta must come out.
The placenta is an organ which connects the fetus to the uterine wall and supplies oxygen and nutrients to the baby during development.
The placenta often comes out within a minute or two after the baby is born, but can take up to 20 or 30 minutes to deliver.
If there is reason for concern about the baby’s health, the placenta may be sent to a pathologist (a doctor who will examine the tissues and check for abnormalities).
Occasionally people want to take their placenta home, which is perfectly acceptable, however you may be unpleasantly surprised by their less than appealing qualities.
In some cases rare complications can occur during this stage of labor.
- Failure of the placenta to separate from the uterine wall.
- Cord avulsion (This occurs when the umbilical cord separates from the placenta before the placenta has been delivered resulting in difficulty delivering the placenta).
When these complications occur, a procedure called manual extraction must be preformed. During a manual extraction, the physician will use their hands to remove the placenta. If an epidural has been administered, this process will not be painful, otherwise an anesthetic is usually required.
Often after the placenta has been delivered, a medicine called pitocin will be administered through your IV or as a shot to reduce uterine bleeding. If the bleeding gets worse medicines such as methergine or hemabate can be administered, which will prevent the bleeding from getting out of control.