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Most mares foal without difficulty. It is usually best to let the mare give birth undisturbed and unassisted. If a problem becomes apparent contact the hospital immediately.
Labor is divided into three stages:
Stage One begins with the onset of contractions and usually lasts one to two hours. Even in a normal delivery the mare may stand up, lie down and roll several times in an effort to properly position the foal for delivery. The fetal membranes may become visible at the mare's vulva. When the sac breaks, signaled by a rush of fluid, stage one ends.
Stage Two is the expulsion of the foal. This phase moves relatively quick. If it takes more than thirty minutes for the mare to deliver there is most likely a problem. If there is no significant progress within 10 to 15 minutes after the membranes rupture call the clinic immediately. If labor seems to be progressing, wait and watch. Normal presentation of the foal resembles a diving position with the front feet first, one slightly ahead of the other, hooves down, followed closely by the nose, head, neck, shoulders and hindquarters.
Stage Three is the expulsion of the placenta or afterbirth. Most placentas are passed within one to three hours after the foal is delivered. If the placenta has not been passed within three hours contact the clinic. A retained placenta can cause serious problems including infection and laminitis.