The third stage of labor is the shortest and the easiest. After your baby is born and the umbilical cord is cut, there is usually a lull for several minutes. Then your uterus starts contracting again. These contractions are not as strong as pushing contractions. You may not be aware of them because you may be paying attention to your baby. These contractions separate the placenta from the wall of your uterus.
Your health care provider will massage your uterus to help the placenta let go. This can be uncomfortable. Your health care provider will examine the placenta carefully to make sure the entire placenta is there.
All women lose some blood after delivery as the placenta separates from the uterus. The amount of blood in a woman's body increases by 50 percent during pregnancy, so your body is prepared to handle this loss of blood.
Your nurse or doctor will use their hands to push on your stomach to massage the top part of your uterus, called the fundus, for firmness. Your uterus needs to stay firm to prevent lots of bleeding. You may need medicine to keep your uterus contracted
Your doctor will stitch an episiotomy or any tears. If you did not have an epidural, he or she will inject numbing medicine before repairing the tear. The stitches will dissolve on their own.
Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, seventh edition, ob-ah-90026
Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts