Thursday, May 28, 2009

Baby Watch: the final chapter

I ate dinner in the bedroom Wednesday evening, because that's where my video monitor is. I cat-napped with one eye, while the other watched the little TV in the nightstand. By 11:00, Misty's pacing and circling was pretty much full-time, and any time she did stop, it was to paw, or kick at her belly. She was definitely in labor.
When I got to the barn, she stayed up for a little longer, then sank to the straw, got up, circled a few times, then down again.
She repeated this several times, then, about 12:15, a fairly strong contraction and the amniotic sack appeared. I could make out one foot and the nose, but I thought I could see a hint of the other foot a little farther behind. Three or four contractions and both front feet and the nose were well exposed, but with four more, there didn't seem to be any additional progress. Misty got up and plopped back down twice, still no progress. So I gently added just a little tension to the pasterns each time she pushed. Two more contractions, and it was obvious things were moving again, but Misty flailed and rolled over, and I had to back off.
No matter. With the next push, the foal's shoulders passed through the birth canal, and the rest followed quickly. It was now about 12:45.
After a very brief rest, Misty got up to start drying him off. This is when there was a major glitch. Usually, when the mare pulls away, the umbilical cord snaps off close to the foal, with the amniotic sack still attached. The weight of this tissue on the cord slowly works with gravity and a few secondary contractions to ease the placenta from the uterus.
However, when Misty stood up, the cord broke right at her vulva, and the placenta slipped back down into her body.
First issue: tie off the cord near the foal, and cut it. I also took this opportunity to "dip" the stub in betadine, as it is one common place for bacteria to enter the body. At this point I also checked the plumbing: it's a colt!
Now to wait and see if Misty would pass the placenta on her own.

Up in half an hour! He's sort of smoky/mousey brown, with his tail and forehead obviously black. It's the same color Maddie's foal coat was (she's his full sibling), so I think he'll shed out black. His face reminded me of Eddie. He's a big baby, too, and doesn't have that gaunt "I've been folded up for awhile" look so many foals have the first few days.

I apologize for the quality of the video--I took it on my little pocket digital and there's no allowance for "dark." This was about 30 seconds after he finally got to his feet.

Took him a little bit, but once he figured out the spigot system, he drank and drank and drank.

Baby finally laid down (after about two hours on his feet), and Misty was quick to join him.

Misty had still not passed the placenta by the time I went in to bed at 3:30 AM, which is cause for concern. I looked it up in my reference materials, and it was suggested that two hours was "officially" a "retained placenta," though it allowed for a longer period when the weight of the cord is not in play, as was the case for Misty.
So when it was still not in evidence this morning (5:00), I called the vet's after-hours line. He was here by 6:00, gave her a shot of oxytocin (the same drug that they give women to induce labor) to stimulate some contractions, a long acting penicillin (her temp was well within the "normal" range--97--so no infection had set in yet, but want to make sure), and some banamine, for discomfort. He then reached in and easily removed the placenta, which was completely free and perfectly formed.
"'Bout as straightforward as could be--that the way we want it."
"Thanks, Doc!"
Baby slept through the whole affair.


  1. Oooh is he ever handsome with that bald face. His hocks look gigantic in that one picture! Glad that the plancenta wasn't a problem...sounds like a pretty smooth go of things for Misty's swan song baby.

  2. What a beautiful little guy! So glad Misty recuperated quickly and all is well.
    Does Baby have a name yet?

  3. Awwww, he is gorgeous! It's awesome that you were there for the birth. I slept in a tent in my neighbor's barn for almost 2 weeks in anticipation of the birth of her foal 2 months ago. But we didn't miss it! So exciting! She now has a little Arabian filly. So sweet!

    My neighbor's mare had a retained placenta, too. Except the sac and cord were fully exposed and the cord had separated right at the foal's belly. But no contractions or gravity seemed to help, so a few hours later the vet was called in (on a Sunday...why are foals so often born on the weekend, when vet's charge so much more? gah!). The oxytocin was given, but my neighbor was told to gently pull on the cord and placenta during contractions until it came out. She did, but it was scary.

    Looks like Jackson is a tobiano, right? He sure looked good right after he was born.