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Episode 20: Delivering the Placenta

birth prep labor postpartum Oct 21, 2021

The placenta is so cool. It's an entire complex organ that you grow once you become pregnant, with the entire purpose of sustaining the baby in utero. To overly simplify things: the placenta takes in your blood flow, pulls out nutrients for the baby, then adds the nutrients to the baby's blood flow. It's so amazing and it functions like this through your pregnancy, nourishing the baby. Then, once the baby is born, the placenta detaches from the walls of the uterus, then you push the placenta out and your uterus clamps down on itself, slowing the bleeding from all the open blood vessels that had been feeding into the placenta. So truly amazing!

Delivering the placenta is a super important stage of labor and birth, but it isn't one that gets talked about much. Often, the birthing person and birth partner are so distracted by taking in every detail of their new infant that they're only half paying attention as they deliver their placenta.

Imagine this: you're holding your baby in your arms, you've just pushed that cherub out of your vagina, and your medical care provider suggests give a little push --- "wait what?!" I've seen the look of shock and surprise on birthing people's faces -- "I have to push again?" Even when I've warned them about this! Don't worry, though. Pushing out a placenta is nothing like pushing out a baby..

We talk about this and more in today's video.

See you next week!

Full Transcript:

Welcome to episode 20 of the Brave Journey Birth Preparation videos, delivering the placenta This is something that folks don't tend to spend a lot of time thinking or talking about, but it's actually quite important.

So as I've been mentioning: these videos, I originally recorded them for a different purpose. I meant for them to be a part of a full, Brave Journey Birth Preparation Program and curriculum. However, I've ended up completely reorganizing how I am introducing concepts and these videos were no longer useful.

So I decided to split them up and introduce them as free weekly videos. This week we're talking about delivering the placenta, it's super important. So without further ado, let's talk about delivering the placenta. 

Now, moving on to the third stage of labor, the delivery of the placenta. So as I mentioned, lots of times birthing people and their birth partner are so distracted by the recent birth of their baby. And they hopefully have this baby skin to skin and are adjusting to this new reality together.

It's right after the placenta has been delivered, that your medical care provider will be very carefully watching the bleeding. If there's going to be excessive bleeding, it would happen at this time. It's not common, but it's something that your medical care provider will be keeping a close eye on.

So what's happened is that the placenta is attached to the uterus during pregnancy. After the baby is born. The placenta detaches from the uterus, when the placenta was attached to the uterus, there were a gazillion blood vessels going between the placenta and the uterus.

It's a very medically precise term a gazillion, but these blood vessels, when the placenta releases from the uterus, the placenta is delivered and then the blood vessels are open. So it's important that the uterus is contracts down on those blood vessels.

And in terms of delivering the placenta, it may be a little bit surprising, but you'll be, hopefully skin to skin with this infant. And your care provider may ask you to give a little push. So the, the care provider may ask you to give a little push, which may seem quite shocking because you're holding your infant.

Um, but they are asking for a little push, a gentle push to help let placenta be delivered. And the closest thing I can compare it to. And I've tried to come up with a more polite or less weird, uh, analogy or metaphor, but it basically feels like a dead fish. It's soft, it's slimy, it's boneless. So it is very, very different than delivering this infant's head. It is not nearly so difficult. So it's, I've seen, looks on birthing people's faces where they're asked to have a little push and they're like, "oh no, what's going to come back". And it is usually not bad at all.

Once the placenta. Is delivered. This is when the bleeding me is closely watched and the importance of the uterus contracting down on itself to slow and stop that bleeding and the care provider will support this process with two different things.

One will be fundal massage. So the care provider will massage firmly at the top of the uterus to help invite that uterus to clamp down on itself. And then the other is synthetic oxytocin also known as Pitocin. Pitocin at this stage of labor, even a pitocin wasn't used at any other part of labor is used to help encourage the uterus to clamp down on itself to contract down on itself. So the Pitocin will likely be applied either through an IV or if it's a home birth or a birth center birth most often through an injection to the thigh. And that is to encourage the uterus to clamp down on itself. And for bleeding to slow.

The care provider will also be analyzing, looking, holding up the placenta, looking at it to make sure that all parts that the placenta is whole. And to ensure that there aren't any remaining parts of the placenta in the uterus can make bleeding be excessive.

So they're going to make sure that that placenta is whole and has been completely delivered. But you can focus at that time. It's important to know what's going on, but your focus at this point is catching your breath. Skin to skin with your baby, both of you transitioning together to this new reality, the baby is transitioning to breathing air for the first time you are transitioning to the fact that you just birthed a baby.

And now you are parents. 

Okay, that concludes our conversation on delivering the placenta. And this also concludes our series on the stages and phases of labor. So I hope you enjoyed it as always, please reach out to me, [email protected]. I love receiving your emails, comments, thoughts, questions. I love talking to pregnant people.

It's true. So feel free to reach out at any point. And I, I appreciate you. Thank you for watching and we'll see you next week.



Free Birth Plan Templates

While you can't 'plan' birth, creating a Birth Preferences document in collaboration with your OB or Midwife will help you get to know your care provider, learn your birth facility options, and practice being an active participant in your birth experience.

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This birth bag packing list pdf and mini-class video shows you what to pack for your birth and how to set the tone in your birth room.

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