Third Stage of Labor

Going through the birth of your child is a wonderful and unique experience. No two deliveries are alike and there is no way to tell how your delivery is going to be. What we can tell you is the stages you will go through during this process and what you can expect. Childbirth can be divided into three stages:

First stage: Begins from the onset of true labor and lasts until the cervix is completely dilated to 10 cm.

Second stage: Continues after the cervix is dilated to 10 cm until the delivery of your baby.

Third stage: Delivery of your placenta.

Third Stage:

The third stage is the delivery of the placenta and is the shortest stage. The time it takes to deliver your placenta is anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes.

What to expect & what to do:

After the delivery of your baby, your health care provider will be waiting for small contractions to begin again. This is the signal that your placenta is separating from the uterine wall and ready to be delivered. Pressure may be applied by massage to your uterus; and the umbilical cord may be gently pulled. The result will be the delivery of your placenta, also known as afterbirth. You may experience some severe shaking and shivering after your placenta is delivered. This is common and nothing to be alarmed about.

You have now completed all the stages of childbirth and will be monitored for the next few hours to make sure that the uterus continues to contract and bleeding is not excessive.

Now you can relax and enjoy your little bundle of joy!


Last Updated: 09/2008

Compiled using information from the following sources:

William’s Obstetrics Twenty-Second Ed. Cunningham, F. Gary, et al, Ch. 17.

Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: The Complete Guide. Simkin, Penny, P.T., et al, Ch. 9.

American Pregnancy Association,

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