This is the stage where the fetus passes through the birth canal and is born, usually occurring within 20-30 minutes of the release of allantoic fluid. If longer, assessment of fetal position and posture should be performed to determine if there are any abnormalities, and if so, corrected. Uterine contractions at this time are heightened by a release of oxytocin. As the foal is being born, one can see the unbroken amniotic sack emerging from the birth canal. The front feet will appear in a normal birthing with on foot extended in front of the other (so that the foalís shoulders may pass through the pelvis) and the soles of the feet will be pointed downward. The amnion usually ruptures at this point, although some assistance may be needed to break it.
Usually, if the foal is able to sit sternally and breath
easily, no intervention is needed since the mare will most likely stay laying
down for several minutes. It is
important not to break the umbilical cord too early so that blood from the
placenta has a chance to return to the foal.
It is under most instances acceptable to let the cord break on its own as
the mare attempts to stand. If
necessary, the cord may be manually broken with careful attention that undue
tension is not placed on the abdominal wall of the foal.
The cord should not be cut. The
navel should be disinfected with 0.5% chlorhexidene for the first few days of
An enema can also be administered shortly after birth to inhibit meconium impaction.
The foal may be placed at the mareís head if she hasnít risen after the umbilicus has been broken. This will help to ensure that the mare doesnít step on the foal when she stands up, while also helping to initiate mare-foal bonding.