Stage 3: Delivery of the placenta

After your baby is born, you'll likely feel a great sense of relief. You might hold the baby in your arms or on your abdomen. Cherish the moment. But a lot is still happening. During the third stage of labor, you will deliver the placenta.

How long it lasts: The placenta is typically delivered in five to 30 minutes, but the process can last as long as an hour.

What you can do: Relax! By now your focus has likely shifted to your baby. You might be oblivious to what's going on around you. If you'd like, try breast-feeding your baby.

You'll continue to have mild contractions. They'll be close together and less painful. You'll be asked to push one more time to deliver the placenta. You might be given medication before or after the placenta is delivered to encourage uterine contractions and minimize bleeding.

Your health care provider will examine the placenta to make sure it's intact. Any remaining fragments must be removed from the uterus to prevent bleeding and infection. If you're interested, ask to see the placenta.

After you deliver the placenta, your uterus will continue to contract to help it return to its normal size. A member of your health care team will massage your abdomen to make sure the uterus feels firm.

Your health care provider will also determine whether you need stitches or repair of any tears of your vaginal region. If you don't have anesthesia, you'll receive an injection of local anesthetic in the area to be stitched.

Now what?

Savor this special time with your baby. Your preparation, pain and effort have paid off. Revel in the miracle of birth.

June 22, 2016 See more In-depth