University of wisconsin-madison

Stage 2 - Explusion of the Fetus

The second stage of labor features the strong uterine and adominal contractions that lead to delivery of the foal. This stage begins after the chorioallantois breaks. The mare usually lays on her side and begins exhibiting adominal contractions referred to as straining. Within 5 minutes of the chorioallantois breaking, the amnion, a grey to whitish membrane is seen between the vulva lips. As parturition progresses, first one foot and then the other will be seen with the soles of the hooves directed downward. The mare may get up and reposition herself at this time. The straining will then increase with the most forcefull contractions as the head passes through the cervix and becomes visible between the legs. The contractions continue as the shoulders appear. It is at this point that the amnion usually is ruptured by the legs. Contractions continue until the hips pass through the cervix. The fetus may still have its hind legs within the mare. At this point the mare usually will rest for 15 to 20 minutes. If the amnion has ruptured, the foal's head is clear, is breathing and can rotate to its sternum, then the mare and foal should not be distrubed. The umbilical chord will not rupture until the mare stands and this rest period will allow blood to return from the placenta to the foal. There should be no undue concern however if the mare stands right after delivery of the foal and the umbilical chord is ruptured except to sure excessive bleeding does not occur.

The end of stage 2 is when the foal's hips pass the cervix. Stage 2 can last from 10 to 60 minutes with an average of 20 minutes.

The foal can be moved next to the mare's head if the mare has not risen by the time the umbilical chord breaks. While this can help to prevent the mare from stepping on the foal, any unneeded people in the foaling area should be avoided to allow dam-foal interaction.

In this image the amnion broke from the rest of the placenta. The amnion is free from the head however and the foal need not be disturbed yet. The mare is interacting with the foal and bonding is occuring.
Here is a second mare in which the foal is fine although up against the side of the stall. The amnion however is free of the foals head. This mare has not yet stood and the placenta is still attached; the umbilical chord has not yet broken. This foal should not be disturbed yet as blood from the placenta is returning to the foal.


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