Placenta delivery is a natural process that occurs after birth. The placenta is the organ that nourished your baby while they were in the womb, and now it’s time to remove it.
The gruelling part is over, and you have pushed the baby out of the birth canal. What remains now is the delivery of the placenta, also known as the third stage of labour. At the time of placenta expulsion, you will experience mild contractions that can last about a minute each. These will help separate the placenta from the uterine wall and move it through the birth canal so that you can push it out.
This is a crucial process as the delivery of the entire placenta is required for the labour process to be termed complete.
Function of a Placenta and the Process of Placenta Expulsion
The placenta helps in the baby’s growth (Photo Credits: Piqsels)
As you know, the placenta is the lifeline between your baby and your own blood supply. It provides your baby food and nourishment through the entire stage of your pregnancy. Typically, a placenta attaches itself to one side of the mother’s uterus and the baby’s umbilical cord on the other side.
Interestingly, not only does the placenta provide your baby with food, but it also acts as a barrier since it’s vital that germs in your body don’t make your baby sick and that your body doesn’t reject your baby as foreign material.
The placenta also contributes to the baby’s growth and produces hormones like- oestrogen, human chorionic gonadotropin, and progesterone.
Once your baby is birthed, and doctors cut the umbilical cord, the placenta is useless. So you will continue to have contractions until the placenta comes out from your body and the process of placenta expulsion is complete. The doctor or the medical practitioner may decide to speed up the placenta delivery by massaging your uterus.
After your baby is born, part of the placenta or membranes can remain in the womb. We know this as retained placenta. If this is left untreated, it can cause fatal bleeding.
What Is Placenta Delivery
The placenta is a child’s lifeline, and delivery can be one of the most difficult parts of giving birth. The placenta is attached to the uterine wall by a series of blood vessels called the umbilical cord. As the placenta grows, so does this cord; eventually, it becomes too large to fit through the cervix.
As your baby grows, so does your placenta—and usually, when you’re ready to give birth, it’s time for your doctor to help you deliver it.
How Is Placenta Delivered
The placenta is delivered through the birth canal, just like your baby.
There are two ways your placenta will emerge: with the amniotic sac (also called “water breaking”) or without it. If you deliver vaginally and have an amniotic sac, your doctor will break it to release the water. But if you’re delivering vaginally and don’t have an amniotic sac, then they will use a special device called a C-Section hook to grab hold of the edge of the placenta and guide it out of your body.
If you’re delivering via c-section, they’ll move everything aside so they can pull out the placenta.
Placenta delivery (Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons)
Signs of Placenta Delivery
Not all women experience the same symptoms of placenta delivery. Some women may experience a few, while others may experience them all. The following are some signs that you may be experiencing placenta delivery:
- The baby’s movement becomes less frequent.
- You have increased vaginal discharge and are leaking amniotic fluid.
- Your cervix opens and softens, allowing your baby to move down into the birth canal.
- Your water breaks (your doctor will confirm this with a pelvic exam).
Placenta Delivery in Caesarian vs Vaginal Birth
If you have given birth via caesarian section, your doctor will physically remove the placenta from your uterus before closing up the incision in the uterus and your stomach. After the delivery, the doctor may massage the uterus to help it contract and shrink.
The doctor may administer Pitocin (oxytocin) via injection to encourage uterine contractions, which will speed the expulsion of the placenta.
On the other hand, in a vaginal delivery, the uterus will continue to contract after a woman has her baby. These contractions will move the placenta forward for delivery.
Either way, your doctor will monitor you to check if you have delivered the entire placenta. If not, they will help and support you to push it out of the body, based on your delivery type.
Does Delivering a Placenta Hurt
The short answer is no.
The long answer is: it depends.
Delivering a placenta is often not painful, but it can be uncomfortable. In most cases, though, it’s not particularly painful. The risk of pain from delivery of the placenta is related to how early in the pregnancy you are when you deliver and whether or not you have had previous pregnancies that ended in miscarriage or complications.
If this is your first pregnancy, there’s a good chance that you’ll experience little to no discomfort during delivery of the placenta.
For second or third pregnancy, with things that went smoothly with your first one, there’s also a good chance that things will go smoothly now, but if they don’t, that’s where things get dicey.
If you’re experiencing pain during delivery because something has gone wrong with your pregnancy, tell your doctor immediately so they can make sure everything is okay with you and your baby.
If not, try taking some deep breaths until things are over—and then celebrate!
When Does Delivering a Placenta Hurt
There are a few different ways that delivering a placenta can hurt.
First, you may experience abdominal cramps as the placenta is delivered. This is normal and nothing to worry about; it’s just part of the process.
Second, you may feel tearing as the placenta separates from the uterus wall. This is also normal and nothing to worry about; you’ll probably need stitches afterwards, but it won’t be serious or long-term (unless you have multiple children).
Finally, you may experience some pain if there are any complications with your delivery (such as infection)because it involves an open wound that needs treatment and care.
Placenta Rupture During Delivery
Placenta rupture during delivery is a complication that can occur during the birthing process. It occurs when the placenta, which provides oxygen and nutrients to the baby, separates from the wall of the uterus.
Placenta rupture does not always cause complications. If it does, however, it can cause severe bleeding for both mother and child. If a woman experiences this complication, she may need a cesarean section or emergency blood transfusion if she has lost too much blood.
Symptoms of Placenta Rupture During Delivery
Placenta rupture can cause serious complications in pregnant women—and sometimes even death. If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- Heavy bleeding
- Painless vaginal bleeding (that may be bright red or brown)
- Rapid pulse rate
- Faintness or dizziness
Best Position of Placenta for Normal Delivery
The best position of the placenta for normal delivery is the posterior position. The front part of the baby’s head is facing forward, while the back part faces backward toward your spine. It’s also called “sunny-side up.”
If your placenta is in the posterior position, it will not affect your labour or delivery. Most babies are born with their placentas in this position anyway!
However, if your placenta was in a non-optimal position (such as anterior or transverse), it may be necessary to perform an emergency cesarean section (C-section). This happens because the baby cannot be delivered through that opening and must be cut out from above your womb.
What You May Feel After The Placenta Comes Out
You will feel contractions and need to do abdominal pushing when the placenta comes out.
According to Romper, most women describe the placenta as warm, slimy and veiny. Once the placenta comes out, you may feel a sense of great relief as some women share that there is immense pressure from the placenta.
But in all this, the good thing is that you are not alone. Your partner may be right next to you to support you, both physically and mentally.
How your partner can help
It is essential to stay calm in this critical situation, and your partner’s role is extremely important.
- Massage your wife’s temples to help ease her stress
- Be patient
- Stay with your wife as much as possible
- Ask her if she is facing any discomfort.
If your partner is unable to support you physically, you may be provided with a midwife by the hospital. Alternatively, you could request for one. They also have a very crucial role in the process of delivery.
The Stages Of Labour: A Guide For Pregnant Mums
Too Much Amniotic Fluid: 10 Symptoms of Polyhydramnios In Pregnancy
Should You Be Worried About Placenta Previa? Everything You Need To Know
Here’s How Your Midwife Will Help You
Some complications in the third stage of labour include primary postpartum haemorrhage (heavy bleeding) and some issues delivering the placenta if it doesn’t come from the womb.
Here, your midwife may ask you to breastfeed your baby as soon as possible after your child’s birth. This will help your womb to contract and push the placenta out.
Your midwife may also ask you to change position, like moving to a sitting or a squatting position.
Incidentally, medical practitioners usually give an epidural
or spinal anaesthetic in case the placenta doesn’t come out from the womb. If nothing works, you may need an operation to remove the placenta.
While this is still a best-case scenario, in the rare chance that you cannot deliver the placenta, special additional procedures are in place.
What Happens When You Don’t Deliver A Placenta?
Placenta expulsion is crucial post delivery because a retained placenta is a major cause of concern. If the woman does not deliver the placenta within 30 and 60 minutes of childbirth, she can experience heavy bleeding or infection.
In some cases, women also experience fever, cramping, and persistent heavy bleeding with blood clots.
Can You Keep Your Placenta After Birth?
Yes, you can. Some countries and states have regulations regarding saving the placenta, so check with the facility provider to be sure if they can save it.
Some women eat their placenta
and may even dehydrate it and encapsulate it into pills. They believe these pills will help to reduce postpartum depression. Other women may just plant the placenta in the ground as a symbolic gesture of life and earth.
Either way, it remains your call, and you can choose to do with it what you wish.
Updated by Pheona Ilagan
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.