prolapse ewe in labour - no birth bubble yet - when to assist? What to do?

trampledbygeese

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Please help. Vet is closed and I'm not sure if I should get involved or let the ewe keep going on her own. I'm in tears with worry.

3 year old, black welsh mountain ewe, her name is Mini. This is her second year.

This is my third year lambing, second year lambing on my own. I have a lot to learn still, but last year I got a lot of experience assisting birthing. Between big heads and backwards lambs, there was a lot to do.

Minni's had a slight prolapse lamb hole for the last two weeks, but sucked it back in on her own. I talked with the vet about it and he said it should be fine, but contact him if it doesn't go away after birthing. Two days ago, the prolapse was getting larger (as her lamb hole got larger). Yesterday, I had the sheerer come 'round to have a look at her, and he said the prolapse looks good for a prolapse. Yesterday evening, it was obviously giving her pain, and not popping back inside on her own. So I gently massaged the prolapse back inside her - she squirted urine all over me as a thank you. But it made her feel better. No feeling of a lamb or anything pushing it's way out. About an hour later, she started pawing at the ground, doing all the pre-birthing ritual. So I've been keeping an eye on her all night.

She's got the... contractions?... where she grunts and pushes. That started just after sunset yesterday. They are more frequent now, about every 12 to 20 minutes. She looks pretty miserable.

She hasn't passed her water sack, bloody bubble thingy yet. To have contractions all night (it's sunrise now) and this close together, I would have expected to see it by now.

When do I intervene? What do I do? How long should this be taking her?
 

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I have no experience here, but were it me, I'd be gloving up! Are you sure of her breeding date and that she's due now? The prolapse may be making her think she's pushing out a lamb when she really isn't (yet). If she keeps pushing, she's likely to have a major prolapse and a stuck/dead lamb due to swelling and blockage. Do you have a nearby sheep person who might could help?

@purplequeenvt @Sweetened @mysunwolf @secuono @norseofcourse @Roving Jacobs @frustratedearthmother Are the first folks to come to mind regarding sheep. I'm sure there are others. I hope things work out for your ewe and potential lamb(s).
 
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promiseacres

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Personally I would be doing something at this point, calling another or other experienced sheep breeder. Though I am not afraid to glove up and do an through exam when necessary. I would go with your gut,see if the lamb is stuck or swollen.
 

trampledbygeese

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Thanks guys for your replies. I just came back from taking her to the vet. He's open now, and was able to fit us in for an emergency appointment.

She is very close. Don't know her exact due date, as we don't know when the ram did his duty. Her lamb hole is lovely and large, her udders have been full for three weeks. They give milk when squeezed.

Before I took her to the vet, I cleaned my hand very well, and stuck it up her lamb hole looking for lambs. I could get in just past my wrist, but after that I got lost. I've never been inside a ewe like this before, not that far anyway. There was this little hole that I could get a finger through, but no where else for my hand to go. Couldn't 'see' anything inside that was lamb shape.

Ewe is in distress, I'm in distress. Called the vet as soon as he opened to ask him how worried I should be. He said very. Brought her in, he did an exam and says that her cervix hasn't relaxed yet. It may relax on its own, or it may not. Wait 24 hours then it's time to make a decision. C-section or put her down. Financially, it's not worth it to do a C-section, but emotionally I don't want her to die. It's all very upsetting.
 

promiseacres

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Prayers the cervix dialates. I am very glad you were able to get her to the vet. I have seen a cow prolapse (not a good scenerio)but never any issues with my sheep.
 

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Someone here recently had a similar issue with a goat in that the cervix had been previously damaged. The doe in question never settled after that (several years attempts) until this last mating season. When the time came to kid, the cervix would/did not dilate during birthing. It was recommended that the cervix be "massaged" to help it dilate but it was (I believe) too damaged and wouldn't open. By the time a C section was attempted it was too late and the kid(s) as well as the doe were lost.

You could purchase some "relaxing" lube and try to massage the cervix to loosen and open it up (the little hole you got your finger through). If I did that, I'd monitor it every hour or two and see if she's making any more progress. Another thing you could do is milk her some. Not enough to empty her udder, but to stimulate her. I understand that's one of the things that (helps) relaxes the cervix and uterus to help with contractions and delivery of the placenta at the end.

If she delivers and survives this, and you've been "invasive" to get her through this, I would definitely be doing some antibiotic treatments afterwards to assist her recovery and help prevent possible infections. You had said this was her second year, and I assumed that meant lambing (rather than age). Did she have these issues before? If not and this is a "one off" event, I might consider breeding her again, if not, I would say this should be her (if she makes it through) last breeding.

I really hope you both make it! Please let us know how it goes. Good luck!

Edit to add: Sorry I didn't mention you @promiseacres as a possible resource... I completely forgot you had sheep in the "heat of the moment".
 

frustratedearthmother

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I'm curious why the vet wouldn't use some lutalyse to help her along if he thinks she's close enough to kidding - grrrrr - lambing - to deliver a viable kid - oops - lamb. (Can you tell I'm a goatie?) I've only dealt with a vaginal prolapse once and it was bad...to the point where we stitched her closed to hold it in - yikes! But, when labor started that prolapse shrank back, the cervix opened up and out popped three really big babies! Just curious...
 

trampledbygeese

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I know in Canada drugs and livestock are tricky. A lot of drugs approved in other countries aren't approved for use here. Sheep and goats aren't considered high enough priority or economically valuable enough for the government to make their meds a priority. Sometimes the vet can use the drug off label, but other times it could mean them losing their licence. I don't know how it is with cervix opening drugs in Canada, but I'll ask him.

It's also possible that the cervix is staying closed due to damage, I don't know if drugs will help with this.
 

purplequeenvt

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Is she really in labor or is the prolapse just making her think she is?

Often times, if the lamb is not positioned correctly, the cervix won't dilate properly. If the vet thinks that she really is in labor, I'd get in there and work on dilating her. She could have something called "ring womb".

Don't give her any drugs that will induce labor without getting her dilated first!

You could do a terminal c-section. I'm not sure how it would work with the vet, but I had to do on last spring. My dad shot her and I got 2 lambs out in less than 10 seconds. Unfortunately, 1 was already dead (the one causing the issues) and the other died a few hours later (she had been in labor a very long time).
 

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