After the delivery of the baby, the placenta normally separates away from the wall of the uterus and is expelled by the contractions of the uterus within a few minutes. The process may be assisted by a doctor using injections to improve the uterine contractions and manoeuvres to assist the separation of the placenta. If it fails to separate from the uterus and remains retained within the uterus, it is necessary to perform a simple procedure to remove the retained placenta. Without this procedure, the mother would continue to bleed, and this could threaten her life.
Under a general anaesthetic, the doctor slides his hand into the uterus, and uses his fingers to separate the placenta from the uterus and lift it away from the wall of the uterus, so that it can be drawn to the outside of the body through the vagina.