What are the symptoms of retained placenta?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Retained placenta is when all or part of the placenta remains in the uterus following birth. The placenta is usually expelled within 15 to 30 minutes after birth. This is known as the third stage of labor. The separation of the placenta from the uterine wall during this period is signaled by a sudden lengthening of the remaining umbilical cord and a gush of fresh blood. If the placenta does not spontaneously deliver the medical team will manually remove it.

 If a portion of the placental tissue remains in the uterus, after the completion of the third stage of labor, the woman may experience symptoms related to the presence of the tissue. These symptoms may include:

  • Increased cramping as the body is trying to expel the remaining tissue.
  • Increased bleeding as the uterus is unable to effectively contract and control bleeding at the site where the placenta was attached.
  • Presence of foul smelling vaginal discharge as bacteria gathers on the retained tissue and develops into an infection.
Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

In many cases, retained placenta refers to the failure of placental delivery within a half hour of birth. Normally, the doctor will notice that the placenta has not been delivered and the condition will be treated immediately. However parts of your placenta may still be attached to your inner uterine wall. Symptoms of this include smelly vaginal discharge, fever, and unusually heavy vaginal bleeding.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.