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Home > Labour and Birth > Four Stages of Labor > The Third Stage of Labor
The Third Stage of Labor
The Third Stage of Labor - The Delivery of the Placenta
 Delivery of the PlacentaThe third stage is the shortest of all, beginning after the birth of the baby and ending with birth of the placenta. Duration of this stage is about ten to thirty minutes. You get some respite from the contraction after your baby is born, then the uterus resumes contractions and pulls itself away from the placenta. Relaxation and pat-terned breathing needs to be continued because the uterus sometimes cramps vigor-ously. You may not notice this stage as you would be preoccupied with your baby. Some parents enjoy seeing the placenta after it is delivered.

Your baby needs closed medical monitoring immediately after the birth. A routine examination is recommended as soon as his breathing is established and the baby is dried off. The Apgar score, a grading system devised by Dr. Virginia Apgar evaluates the baby`s overall condition. It is evaluated first-at one minute and again at five minutes. Five areas are graded, each with a maximum of two points, making ten the highest possible score.

The baby`s total score are taken each time the test is done. A first (one-minute) score of seven to ten indicates a normal baby (babies seldom receive a "ten"; most babies` hands and feet are bluish for a while, lowering their Apgar score); four to six indi-cates mild to moderate depression; zero to three indicates severe depression. The second (five-minute) score is usually higher than the first, indicating improvement with time and or medical assistance. Apgar scores is not a perfect indication of the baby`s overall health. A thorough examination within a few hours of birth by your doctor will provide a more complete assessment of your baby`s condition.

Cutting the Umbilical Cord
 Umbilical CordThe cord is cut within a minute or more after the birth. It is first clamped in two places and then cut with scissors between the two clamps. Sometimes the father makes the cut. There is a lot of dis-agreement on the exact time when the cord clamping and cutting is to be carried out.

Advocates of early cord clamping (within one minute) believe that clamping the cord deprives the baby of placental oxygen thereby stimulating early breath-ing. A possible cause of newborn jaundice is prevented by early clamping since the baby is deprived of excess blood from the placenta. Those who advocate late clamping believe that by waiting until the cord stops pulsating (usually a few minutes), the baby benefits from the oxygen available in the cord blood while he tries to start respiration. The non pulsating cord indicates that blood has stopped flowing between the baby and placenta. They believe that the baby may not be rushed to breathe by this process. They also believe that by placing the baby on the mother`s abdomen, which is at about the level of the placenta, excessive amounts of blood will not pass to or from the baby.

The optimal time of clamping the cord is not fixed, discuss it with your doctor or attendant. If you have strong feelings about it, make sure to include your preferences in your Birth Plan. Some circumstances demand early cord cutting - a cord wrapped tightly around the neck, and a short cord.

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