Delivering the placenta | What to expect | Living and LovingLiving and Loving

Delivering the placenta | What to expect

Labour is over and you’ve finally pushed your baby out of your birth canal and into your arms. All that’s left now is to deliver the placenta. Here’s what to expect.


Most moms-to-be get clear messages at each stage of labour as the contractions change, but this isn’t the case for everyone. Sometimes the stages overlap, and most women aren’t really aware of the contractions associated with the third stage of labour, as they are so preoccupied with gazing at their newborn.

How the placenta is delivered

Dr Miriam Stoppard explains in her book, Conception, Pregnancy and Birth, that during the third stage of labour the placenta becomes detached from the uterine wall and is delivered by expulsion down the birth canal. Usually no attempt is made to deliver it until it is certain that it is separating from the uterine wall and moving down towards the vagina.

The signs to look out for that confirm that this is happening are:

  • A resumption of contractions a few minutes after the birth of your baby
  • A compulsion to push on your part which indicates that the placenta has separated and is pressing down on your pelvic floor.

Delivery is encouraged by gentle tugging on the cord, while also pressing above the rim of the pelvis to control the descent. The placenta is then expelled through the vagina, followed by the membranes.

Once the placenta is delivered, the medical practitioner will examine it carefully to ensure that it is complete and none of it has been left behind. If any of the placenta has been retained by the uterus, it can cause bleeding later, so it needs to be removed as soon as possible after it’s been established that it is still there. Usually an ultrasound will be used to confirm this, should there be any doubt. After the placenta has been delivered, and the umbilical cord cut, you can enjoy bonding with your baby.

Here are six reasons why you should wait to cut your baby’s umbilical cord.


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