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The birth of a foal is an amazing event. If all goes well, the mare proceeds through three stages of labor relatively quickly. Stage one generally involves overall restlessness as the mare paces the stall, paws, lies down, gets back up, and often begins to sweat. In stage two there are strong contractions, “breaking of the water” occurs, and the mare may lie down to deliver the foal, often in a just a few minutes.
Once the foal is safely delivered there is still more to be done. In Stage three of labor the placental membranes are expelled and it is highly important that placental membranes are expelled completely.
Placental expulsion occurs as the mare continues with strong, labor-like uterine contractions. Generally, placental expulsion takes place within one to three hours after birth, but on occasion some or all of the placenta is retained. The only way to know for sure if the entire placenta has been expelled is to examine it closely after expulsion. If tears have occurred and pieces seem to be missing, there is a likelihood that some of it remains within the uterus.
Clearly, this medical situation is part of your holistic veterinarian’s mare and foal care protocol. The determination of retained placenta should be made by your veterinarian.
When a foal of mine was born several years ago our veterinarian determined that our mare, Mariah, likely had some level of retained placenta. About 3 hours after birth, I worked the equine acupressure points shown in the following chart with success!