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The third stage of labour

The third stage of labour is a piece of cake after making it through the first stage and second stage of labour. It starts at the end of your baby’s birth and ends with the delivery of your afterbirth or placenta. It lasts for anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes, though less than 10 minutes is characteristic of most births.

During stage 3 of labour your uterus will continue to contract in order to loosen and push out the placenta which is connected to your uterine wall, you may need to give one final push. Don’t worry though, you’ll probably not notice these contractions or feel that push as they’re not very strong and chances are you’ll be lost in your gorgeous new baby’s eyes.

There are several waysyou can deliver the placenta in the third stage of labour:


After labour you will get to stare into those beautiful eyes
Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  1. An injection of oxytocic medicine into your thigh after your baby’s birth, which causes your womb to contract and the placenta to then separate from your uterine wall.
  2. Breastfeeding your baby immediately after birth, which also causes your womb to contract and thus produces the same result as method 1.
  3. To wait for the placenta to naturally separate from your uterine wall, however this method can cause blood loss or a postpartum haemorrhage (PPH), so it is a bit of a risk.

Methods one and two are preferred and far more common than method 3. After labour you may continue to feel contractions similar to menstrual cramps for a few hours or a couple of days. Don’t worry they will disappear and you can take pain relievers if you need to.

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