So the baby has entered the world. She's healthy, and you're bonding up a storm with her. Okay, time to pack it up and go home, right? No, not quite. There is still another job to do: birthing the afterbirth.
The afterbirth, or placenta, has sustained your child while inside the womb, feeding and supporting her. Its job is done, and it cannot remain inside your partner's body. It has to come out the same way the baby did: traveling down the birth canal.
Birthing the placenta can take anywhere from five to twenty-five minutes or more. Your partner will continue to have contractions (though milder than before), which means that you've got to help her get through them. In other words, you're back on the job, Coach. Give your child to a nurse, and turn your attention back to your partner, encouraging her and helping her to finish this one last job. When she's done, you're done.
Every woman is different, and so is every labor. Your job as labor coach is to dial into what is going on with your partner and respond to what she needs, based on the situation at hand. Be pro-active. Rather than waiting for her to tell you what to do, make a suggestion and give it a try.
Be aware, too, that your partner may need to be stitched up after birth. The perineum is the skin on the bottom side of the vaginal opening. She may have had an episiotomy or incision to prevent bad tearing in this area, or she may have torn from the exertion of labor. This will be an uncomfortable several minutes for her.
And so you and your partner have made your journey. You checked into the hospital as a couple and then, with the birth team assembled around your partner and working as a unit, the most amazing and mind-blowing event of your life occurred: your baby was born. You will leave the hospital as a family.