The 3rd Stage of Labor

The birth of your child is a special and unique experience.  No two deliveries are alike, and there is no way to accurately predict how your specific delivery will go. However, there are predictable stages of labor and childbirth, so you can generally know what to expect.

Childbirth involves three stages:

First stage: Begins from the onset of true labor and lasts until the cervix is completely dilated to 10 cm.

Second stage: Continues after the cervix is dilated to 10 cm until the delivery of your baby.

Third stage: Delivery of your placenta.

The third stage is the delivery of the placenta and is the shortest stage. The time it takes to deliver your placenta can range from 5 to 30 minutes.

What to expect & what to do:

After the delivery of your baby, your health care provider will be looking for small contractions to begin again. The contractions signal that your placenta is separating from the uterine wall and is ready to be delivered.

Pressure may be applied by massage to your uterus and the umbilical cord may be gently pulled. The result will be the delivery of your placenta, also referred to as the afterbirth. You might experience some severe shaking and shivering after your placenta is delivered. This is a common symptom and not a cause for concern.

After completing all the stages of childbirth, you will be monitored for the next few hours to make sure that the uterus continues to contract and that bleeding is not excessive.

You should now be able to relax and enjoy your little bundle of joy!

Last Updated: 08/2015

Compiled using information from the following sources:

William’s Obstetrics Twenty-Second Ed. Cunningham, F. Gary, et al, Ch. 17.
Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: The Complete Guide. Simkin, Penny, P.T., et al, Ch. 9.


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