Ewe straining but no plug, no discharge, no sac... Just wait?

shepherdO

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Hey all,

We came home from church at 1:30 this afternoon to find my rambouillet ewe Bonnie with sunken in sides, an udder the size of a basketball, and breathing pretty hard. As of now (2.5 hours later) she's in the jug doing all the pawing, breathing hard with head hanging down, lying down and getting up shtick, etc.

As of late the lying down is accompanied by periodic straining - the kind where she's lying flat with neck out, and then kind of 'rolls up' a bit more onto her back if that makes sense, legs straightening, etc. NOT full-on 'almost there' stage 3 pushing, but definitely something.

Anyhoo, the thing that I'm finding weird is that there hasn't been any discharge that I've seen, nor is there any mucus plug or anything like that. In the births that I've witnessed, there's almost been something like that as a precursor.

I think at this point obviously I'm going to wait, but at what point do you worry that something's wrong inside? Particularly something like (eg) ringwomb, or something blocking the cervix, or...? I'm hoping this is all just going to sort itself out, but the ewe is a first timer and a bit older, so of course I'm worried. In my limited experience, when they're getting to the pushing stage and breathing as hard as she is, typically their back end shows more evidence of being involved in the process!

Attached are pics of her vulva and also her sunken sides. Poor girl. She's a beautiful friendly ewe, so I'm hoping for a ewe from her.

Shepherd)
 

shepherdO

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frustratedearthmother

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I don't know anything about sheep - but at this point it might be a good idea to do quick internal exam if she'll let you. I'll try to tag some sheep people for you @Mike CHS, @Baymule, @secuono, @Sheepshape. I'm sure there are others - I just can't think of them.
 

shepherdO

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Thanks! I'm torn about jumping the gun here - she is obviously in labour, but apparently stage 1 can take 2-14 hours... Then other sites say 2-6 hours, and so on. As she's a first time mum, I feel like I should just give her a bit of time... and yet I don't want to let the lamb(s) die... uggh... the dilemma.

She's currently not pushing - just contracting. You'd think after going through 4 human birthings (as the father, granted) I'd be more prepared for this. :p
 

frustratedearthmother

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I raise goats - not sheep. I know that after this long I'd wash up, lube up and do a finger sweep. It won't hurt her and it might ease your stress level a bit.
 

shepherdO

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Is the finger sweep just to see (eg) how dilated the cervix is, or...? She's a monster ewe, and I can't see how I'd be able to examine her without assistance - something I don't have at the moment! Better call my nephew, as I don't think my 10 year old could hold back this ewe - she jumps when I eve touch her udder a bit!
 

frustratedearthmother

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Yes, just to "see" what's going on in there. You might find out she's not dilated. Or you might feel a baby part that's not where it's supposed to be. Hopefully, everything is fine and she's just taking her sweet time.
 

Baymule

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How is your ewe? I haven't had to "go fishing" for lambs....(yet). So I really don't know what to tell you at this point. I have the OB gloves, but haven't used any.

I had to milk 3 FF's this time, I cornered them up, launched myself at them, got a horse lead rope around their necks and tied them to a post so I could milk them. If your ewe is jumpy, tie her up or just lay her down with someone to hold her down so you can do a vaginal exam.

Hope she is ok.
 

shepherdO

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Okay, well, my nephew came over and we both took a turn examining her. I tried first (how brave, I know) but didn't really know what I was doing, nor how hard to push. I got in about to where my fingers meet my hand, maybe a bit farther. Basically all 4 fingers. Apparently I was past the cervix, b/c my nephew got a bit farther and said he was in the womb, and could feel something, but couldn't go in any farther without pushing harder than he was comfortable doing.

He took a sheep course with the local vet and has examined more than myself (helping me pull 4 lambs (3 dead, my bad) in my first lambing experience last spring. So basically, he's 'been in there', so to speak - but still no expert.

He thinks it COULD be a breech delivery - either that or a really big lamb head, but couldn't be sure, as he couldn't get far enough.

So, basically we're going to wait an hour and see if anything's progressing, and crossing our fingers that the internal exam got things rolling a bit. She is breathing really hard, and lying down and pushing quite a bit - lips curled, etc. But also taking a nibble of hay once in a while. At this point, b/c we can't get part enough due to the partially dilated cervix, we feel that all we can do is wait. Even if it turns out poorly (ie, lamb gets stuck or dies or whatever) we feel like we can't do anything else at this point.

So, we'll look in on her each hour from now on and see how it's going.

My hope is that b/c this is her first time and she's older, she's at the far end of the '2-14 hours to fully dilate during stage 1 labour' spectrum, and she's saving a lab for later tonight! It's 7:45 pm and I hope I don't end up staying up all night again...

ShepherdO
 

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