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Third Stage of Birth: Delivery of Placenta

In this, the shortest stage of labour, lasting no more than 5 to 20 minutes, placental separation and expulsion take place, following delivery of the baby. The placenta will separate from the wall of the uterus and be expelled from the body, along with the umbilical cord and other membranes . The placenta is examined to check if it is intact and if not, the rest of the placenta is removed from the uterus.
For the mother the main risks in this stage of birth are haemorrage during or after separation of the placenta, as well as retention of the placenta. Postpartum haemorrhage is one of the main causes of maternal mortality; the large majority of these cases occuring in developing countries. The incidence of postpartum haemorrhage and retention of the placenta is increased if predisposing factors are present, such as multiple pregnancy or polyhydramnios , and complicated labour . Therefore the mother is often given an oxytocic to decrease estimated postpartum blood loss.

See also care of the mother following delivery of the placenta ( fourth stage of birth ) and of the baby following birth .

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1. Care in Normal Birth: A Practical Guide. Report of a Technical Working Group, World Health Organisation, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, 1999.
2. Bayfront's Health Adventure, A Woman's Way to Health:

Other HON resources 
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Labour stages
Placenta Delivery
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Labor Stage, Third

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Contact Last modified: Oct 20 2004