The third stage is after the birth of your baby when your womb contracts and the placenta ‘comes’ away from the womb. This can happen naturally, which usually takes within 30 minutes of your baby being born. This is a safe choice following a birth without intervention. It is often called the ‘physiological’ third stage. 

As the placenta is birthed, some blood loss is normal. Once the placenta is out, the womb can contract firmly which prevents too much blood loss.

There is always the option of an injection to ‘actively manage’ the birth of the placenta. This can make the third stage quicker and can help with the contraction of the womb. Depending on the way the birth has gone, you may be advised to have the injection to protect you against heavy blood loss. 

You can discuss these options with the midwife while you are still pregnant, and you may be asked about your preferences in early labour. You can see how things go and you can also change your mind.

It is normal for there to be some bleeding during the third stage of labour. Your midwife will be checking to make sure this stays within safe limits.

When the placenta is birthed, you can ask to see it (or ask not to see it!) The midwife will carefully check to make sure it has all come away from your womb, as it can cause a problem if any is left inside you. 

Find out more about retained placenta on Tommy’s website.

With your consent, your midwife will carry out an examination after your baby is born and the placenta is delivered to check whether you need stitches.