The drug you'll be offered, oxytocin (or occasionally syntometrine) helps your womb contract down so that all the blood vessels in the wall of the womb seal off once the placenta comes away.
Midwives call this 'active management of the third stage of labour'. It speeds up delivery of the placenta, meaning it will usually just take around five to ten minutes. The injection may have the side effect of making you feel dizzy or sick but this is less common with oxytocin.
If you decide not to have the injection and allow the placenta to deliver without any help, this is called a natural third stage of labour (or the ‘physiological management’ of the third stage). This can take up to an hour or so and you are more likely to have a heavier blood loss.
For this reason, you will be advised to have the injection if you have had a very long labour or needed help delivering your baby with forceps or ventouse. It's your choice, though. Talk to your midwife about the options and what you would prefer to do.
You can put your planned preference into your birth plan.
ℹLast reviewed on April 1st, 2015. Next review date April 1st, 2018.