The placenta is birthed after your baby is born. This is called the third stage of labour. Your midwife should talk to you about the two options for birthing the placenta while you are pregnant and the pros and cons of each.
Your first option is called active management. This means you’ll have an injection of a drug called oxytocin into your thigh as you give birth. This makes your womb contract, so the placenta comes away from the wall of your womb and you’ll usually birth the placenta within 30 minutes. The injection can make you feel sick or vomit, but it also lowers your risk of heavy bleeding.
This means that you will birth the placenta without any drugs, which can take up to an hour. Your doctor or midwife will advise you to have active management to birth the placenta, but it’s your decision. If you choose not to have the oxytocin injection and your placenta isn’t birthed within one hour, or you have heavy blood loss, you’ll be advised to have the injection. You can also change your mind and have the injection at any time if you want to.
If the placenta is not birthed within one hour of your baby’s birth if you have physiological management or within 30 minutes of your baby’s birth if you have active management, you may be diagnosed with a retained placenta. This needs to be treated early to prevent complications. A retained placenta isn’t very common.
If you have a caesarean birth, the placenta will also be birthed after your baby is born.
You can put your planned preference into your birth preferences list.