By Stephanie Ondrack
Once your baby is born, the birth seems to be over. Parents hold their new baby, exhausted and relieved, engrossed and amazed, utterly entranced and focused, and are often perplexed when their caregiver asks for one more small push. What on earth for? This is the third stage of labour: the afterbirth. And there are still some choices to be made.
The term ‘afterbirth’ is often used as a synonym for the placenta, which is indeed central to the third stage of labour, but it can also refer to the precious time immediately following baby’s arrival. A lot happens in the short time after baby emerges: the birth of the placenta, the cutting of the umbilical cord, maybe the initiation of breastfeeding, and ideally the golden hour of parents and baby meeting for the first time and beginning the long process of imprinting and bonding.
In this issue, we take a small glance at a couple of the features of Third Stage Labour. The Question of the Quarter discusses options with regards to the umbilical cord. Doula Debra Woods takes a brief peek at some of the things people do with their placentas, founder of Acumamamas, Renee Taylor, shares some acupressure tips for immediately after the birth, and parenting author Michelle Carchrae discusses immediate parent/newborn bonding.
Although the third stage is hardly ever what expectant parents spend time picturing or planning, it is nonetheless an important and potentially memorable stage of birth for parents and baby alike. Even in the event of a surgical birth, many of these same options might be possible depending on the circumstances. As always, we encourage you to ask questions, talk to your caregivers, and include the ‘after birth’ in your vision.