How is the third stage of labor characterized?

Updated: Jan 24, 2019
  • Author: Sarah Hagood Milton, MD; Chief Editor: Christine Isaacs, MD  more...
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The period between the delivery of the fetus and the delivery of the placenta and fetal membranes

Delivery of the placenta often takes less than 10 minutes, but the third stage may last as long as 30 minutes

Expectant management involves spontaneous delivery of the placenta

The third stage of labor is considered prolonged after 30 minutes, and active intervention is commonly considered [2]

Active management often involves prophylactic administration of oxytocin or other uterotonics (prostaglandins or ergot alkaloids), cord clamping/cutting, and controlled traction of the umbilical cord

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