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Do You Know What to Expect At the Final Stage of Labour?

Delivering your baby doesn’t mean labour is over just yet – there’s still a bit more to come!

Once your baby is safely placed into your arms, you may think the birth process is all over but in fact you’re not quite there yet. There are a few more things that need to be done. Firstly, your baby’s umbilical cord needs to be clamped and cut, and the placenta must be delivered.

Q: When is the umbilical cord cut?

During the pregnancy the umbilical cord supplies nutrients and oxygen to your growing baby. After the birth it’s no longer needed so the cord is clamped and cut. The World Health Organization recommends delayed cord clamping, so for a full-term baby it’s advised to delay cord clamping for at least two to three minutes to allow the maximum flow of blood and nutrients to the baby as this can help prevent iron deficiency anaemia later in life.

Some women prefer to leave the cord unclamped until the placenta is delivered. Either way it’s best to make your preference known to your doctor before the birth. The added benefit of delaying the cord clamping is it slows the whole process down and mother and baby are given more time to meet each other and have skin-to-skin contact before the hospital routine takes over.

Q: When is the placenta delivered?

After your baby has been born, it’s time for the placenta to be delivered. This is referred to as the third stage. If the third stage is left to proceed, yout uterus will naturally continue to contract and shrink which separates the placenta from inside your uterus and moves it into the vagina ready to be pushed out. Besides feeling a slight discomfort, the delivery of the placenta is quite straightforward.

Q: What happens to the placenta?
Once the placenta is delivered it’s discarded through the hospital waste system. However, some women want to take their placenta home to dispose it in accordance to religious practices and beliefs.

Q: What happens to my baby’s cord stump?

As there is no further blood supply to the cord stump it will dry, get darker and shrink until it drops off at around seven to 10 days. Sometimes there is a bit of oozing from the cord stump that leaves a stain on the nappy and may have a foul smell but this is quite normal. If the skin around the cord stump and belly button becomes red then it’s best to consult your doctor, but generally there’s no need to do anything with the cord. Just keep it dry and fold the top of the nappy away from the stump.

Got any burning questions? Share them in the comments section below!