The placenta is delivered after your baby is born. This is called the third stage of labour. Your midwife should talk to you about the two options for delivering the placenta while you are pregnant and the pros and cons of each.
Your first option is called active management. This means you’ll have an injection of a drug called oxytocin into your thigh as you give birth. This makes your womb contract so the placenta comes away from the wall of your womb and you’ll usually deliver the placenta within 30 minutes. The injection can make you feel sick or vomit, but it also lowers your risk of heavy bleeding.
“I had the injection but hardly knew it was happening and can’t really remember delivering the placenta!”
Your second option is called physiological management. This means that you will deliver the placenta without any drugs, which can take up to an hour.
Your doctor or midwife will advise you to have active management to deliver the placenta, but it’s your decision.
If you choose not to have the oxytocin injection and your placenta isn’t delivered within 1 hour, or you have heavy blood loss, you’ll be advised to have the injection. You can also change your mind and have the injection at any time if you want to.
If the placenta does not deliver within 1 hour of your baby’s birth if you have physiological management or within 30 minutes of your baby’s birth if you have active management, you will be diagnosed with a retained placenta. This needs to be treated early to prevent complications. A retained placenta isn’t very common.
If you have a caesarean section, the placenta will also be delivered after your baby is born.
You can put your planned preference into your birth plan.
You should feel that your needs and wishes are being listened to during labour, particularly around pain relief. Every labour and birth is unique and care should be tailored to you.
This part of labour can sometimes last a long time. This page explains what the latent phase of labour is and how to get through it as comfortably as possible.
In the diary of a third pregnancy our diarist tries to capture the pain and magic of the birth of her son.
Hypnobirthing is a method of pain management that can be used during labour and birth. It involves using a mixture of visualisation, relaxation and deep breathing techniques.
You might like to consider giving birth at home for a more relaxed experience in familiar surroundings. Find out whether this is the right option for you.
Are you thinking about having a water birth? Find out about the advantages and disadvantages of giving birth in the water, what to wear and what the pain relief options are.
Cutting the cord immediately after the birth has been routine practice for 50-60 years but more recently research is showing that it is not good for the baby.
If your waters break naturally, you may feel a slow trickle or a sudden gush of fluid that you can’t stop. Your waters may break before you go to hospital but are more likely to break during labour.
Braxton Hicks contractions are the body’s way of preparing for labour, but if you have them it doesn’t mean your labour has started. Here, we explain more about Braxton Hicks.
If you’re feeling a bit anxious about giving birth, there are things you can do that may help. Here’s some helpful advice from mums who’ve been there.
The ideal position for your baby to be in for labour and birth is head down, their back towards the front of your stomach.
At the end of your pregnancy, you may have some signs that your baby will arrive very soon, even though you may not go into labour for a little while yet.
NICE (2014). Intrapartum care for healthy women and babies. National Institute for health and care excellence https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg190
Weeks, AD. (2008) The retained placenta. Best practice and research. Clinical obstetrics & gynaeacology 2008 Dec;22(6):1103-17. doi: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2008.07.005. Epub 2008 Sep 14.
ℹLast reviewed on June 13th, 2019. Next review date June 13th, 2022.