What happens during the third stage of labor

What happens during the third stage of labor

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.

You will lose some blood after delivery as the placenta separates from the uterus. This is normal. The amount of blood in your body increases by 50 percent during pregnancy, so your body is prepared to handle this loss of blood.

After delivery of the placenta

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, they will inject numbing medicine before repairing the tear. The stitches will dissolve on their own.

Related resources

Source: Allina Health Patient Education, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, eighth edition, ob-ah-90026
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/06/2021