Signs of the 3rd Stage of Labour

There are three stages of labour, even though most people just think of labour as what is technically just the first stage.

  1. Cervical dilatation (all the way to 10 cm): which is divided into three more stages, just to make things more complicated
    1. Latent: contractions start and the cervix kind of sort of changes (but slowly)
    2. Active: cervix gets its butt in gear (this starts once it’s 2-4 cm dilated),
    3. Descent: baby drops down, this part is on a blurred line between stages 1 and 2
  2. Delivery of the baby: pretty self-explanatory
  3. Delivery of the placenta: within 30 minutes after the baby, more than 60 minutes counts as a retained placenta

It’s very important to not try to yank the placenta out before having seen the signs of the third stage because chances are it has not separated from the endometrium and doing so will cause uterine inversion (it will be pulled inside out). And though you’d think that after the baby is out all the fun is over and the job is done, the 3rd stage is associated with significant potential morbidity such as hemorrhage, retained placenta (which can lead to hemorrhage) and the uterine inversion (and you guessed it, hemorrhage).

This is because the uterus is trying to contract down and squeeze off all the little blood vessels and having something in the way or being inside out prevents it from doing that properly.

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