The third stage of the labor

An African American mother cradles her n

Your baby is born 

Contractions Continue

Once your baby is born, your uterus continues to contract. It will get more mild over the next few days and weeks, but many women are surprised by the intensity. It is important for the contractions to continue, because they are helping to prevent hemorrhage and return your uterus back down to it's original size. You want to welcome these contractions. Continue to use your breathing techniques, focus on your baby, and have your support team cover you with warm blankets. Having your baby skin-to-skin will tell your body to release more hormones for comfort and will also help to stimulate the contractions. Your baby's contact protects you. 

Checking on Your Uterus

Your care provider will check on your uterus at regular intervals. These will be longer intervals over time if all looks well. It is also important to keep an empty bladder, as it might cause the uterus to become flaccid and stop contracting, which may lead to a hemorrhage. In the first weeks postpartum, it is important to continue to keep your bladder empty. It is also important to stay hydrated, so that your body can heal well and has the resources to make milk for your baby. Hydrate well and empty your bladder every 1-2 hours. 

Image by João Paulo de Souza Oliveira

Skin-to-Skin Protects Mom and Baby​.

Empty your bladder often postpartum​.

Hydrate well for an Easier Recovery and to Support your Milk Supply.


Expectant Management 

Many mothers choose expectant management of the 3rd stage, which involves watchful waiting rather than routine interventions. This requires a patient care provider who is willing to wait for signs that the placenta has detached and who will carefully observe the mother to ensure all is going well. The expectant management model for this stage does not involve pushing on the mother's belly, pulling on the cord or otherwise manipulating the process. Many feel that this decreases the likelihood of partial retention of the placenta. If it is left to sheer off the side of the uterine wall in one whole piece on it's own, it may be more likely to do so well. In an expectant management model, a care provider might hold the cord so that it is tout. This may not be absolutely necessary. It helps them to observe. Once the placenta releases the cord will elongate. There will also be a small gush of blood, because the placenta left a wound behind. The wound is shallow, like the skinned knee of a child and a scab will form over the location. As the uterus continues to contract over the next few days and weeks, the scab will be sheered off repeatedly and reform. It is normal to bleed for roughly 6 weeks and the flow will fluctuate. Your care provider will give you guidelines for when to contact them and what to look for as you recover. The more you hold your baby skin to skin, rest, and nourish yourself with good food and fluids, the easier and faster your recovery might be overall. 

Congratulations! You have completed the Stages of Labor