The third stage of labour refers to the period following the completed delivery of the baby until the completed delivery of the placenta.
Active third stage
The delivery of the placenta through the use of drugs or manual removal is know as the active management of the third stage of labour. An injection of syntocinon or syntometrine is given intramuscular into the mother directly after the baby is born and the umbilical cord is also clamped and cut at this time.
Most hospitals will actively manage the third stage unless you inform them that you want a natural third stage. Ensure that if you do choose a natural third stage that adequate time is provided for you to birth the placenta naturally.
Natural third stage
The cord is left attached to the placenta and baby until it stops pulsating or longer. The mother delivers the placenta naturally with the use of contractions and/or gravity.
Positives of active management
- Reduce risk of hemorrhaging
- Speed up delivery of placenta
Negatives of active management
- Powerful contractions that can trap the placenta, if this happens you will need to go to surgery to have it removed and be separation from your baby.
- Increased nausea, vomiting and hypertension in the mother
- Cord is cut/clamped early so the baby doesn’t receive the valuable cord blood.
Disadvantage of early cutting/clamping of the umbilical cord
- It is estimated that early clamping deprives the baby of 54 to 160 ml of blood, which represents up to half of a baby’s total blood volume at birth.
- There is a significant amount of iron in the cord blood that the baby needs for optimal health and for the prevention of anemia.
- The earlier the cord is clamped, the more likely the incidents of respiratory distress syndrome in the baby.
- The blood that babies receives through the cord after birth acts as a source of nourishment that protects infants against the breakdown of body protein.
The recent discovery of the amazing properties of cord blood, and in particular the stem cells contained within it, should show us how important this blood is to our new born baby!
It is more important that the placenta detach easily than that it emerge quickly, the less risk of hemorrhage. — Michel Odent
- Choose a care provider who trusts in the natural process of the third stage and have the skills to assist if something arises.
- Delay cord clamping
- Have skin to skin
- Give yourself time to deliver your placenta
- Follow suggestions from your care provider such as standing up, squatting, coughing, and/or blow into the neck of a bottle
- Birth the placenta naturally with contractions caused from the rush of oxytocin that is released from contact with her baby as well as breastfeeding.
Lotus Birth is the practice of leaving the placenta/cord attached to the baby after birth, until it separates naturally 3-10 days later (as per cut cord).
- The placenta is naturally birthed 20-60 minutes after the baby.
- Baby gets 40-60 ml of blood from placenta if cord if not tied until pulsation ceases. (30ml to newborn is equivalent to 600ml in adult).
- At a minimum, placenta should be left intact until it stops pulsing – 20-60 minutes after birth.
- First voices heard and faces seen by the baby should be the mother and father, the first 45 minutes of baby’s life is crucial for flow of oxytocin – important to baby’s neurological development and well-being.
- Lotus Birth slows things down – time to reflect and settle in together. “The first few days see the digestive tract and the elimination system, both of which are part of placental function, become established in the baby’s body.”
- Blood/oxygen in placenta/cord supports baby’s new breathing/lung process so it is less traumatic. The transfer of important stem cells from cord blood should be allowed to flow to baby’s bone marrow after birth, transforming into various types of blood-making cells.
- “Placenta” means flat cake/flat plate.
- Yearly birthday celebrations with cake is reminiscent and referencing of our birth and sacred placenta.
- Same foetal genetic material splits into 2 – one becomes the baby and the other the placenta. The mother births a baby-placenta unit.
- The placenta is an “organ of high intelligence” – has its own metabolism, regulates maternal functions, separating blood circulations etc. It establishes during first 10 weeks and is fully mature by 3 months – feeding the baby and carrying away waste.
- The placenta supports the baby’s immature liver in unloading toxins and drugs received during birth. It also allows for flow of oxytocins instead of adrenaline. Even after blood/waste transference is completed, there is flow of life force, completing the baby’s aura. Auras of Lotus Birth babies are whole and strong, compared to those there the cord was cut.
Caring for the Placenta
- Allow placenta to be born naturally (without oxytocins and pulling).
- Place it in bowl near the baby. Keep level with baby until blood transfusion is completed.
- Within 2-3 hours wash placenta in warm water to remove clots and pat dry.
- Wrap it in absorbent material (towels, nappy or cloth), salt it (rock salt) and place in colander, set inside larger bowl, to drain for 24 hours.
- Change towels and reapply the salt each day, keeping as dry as possible.
- After 3rd or so day, when it is no longer seeping liquid, wrap in new absorbent cloth and pace in placenta bag (fabric, not plastic).
- Resalt and wrap in fresh towels as required to preserve and eliminate odours.
- Allow cord to disconnect from baby naturally, in its own time.
- When cord is dry, you can wet to soften and reshape if required.
Source: Lotus Birth, Shivam Rachana, http://www.humantransformation.com.au/html/publicationslotus.html
In hindsight, having a Lotus Birth for Phoenix was not only wonderful for all the physical, metaphysical, and spiritual reasons that we initially did it for, but having a cord and bag attached to that darling little baby – in those 5 hectic crazy days of hospital routines and well-meaning-but-misleading nurses, and my own immense insecurity – kept me centred and aware of the blessing taking place in front of my eyes every time I looked at my little girl and her yellow placenta bag. Read more.
An excellent article from Dr Sarah J Buckley
Photo credit: Katrina Folkwell (top), Artemiss Keyhani (bottom)