Stages of Labor

Managers need to understand the stages of labor that a nanny will labor through before they can be successful in the barn. There are generally three stages of labor that may vary in length and intensity, depending on the doe and doe's age.

This doe and her twin kids were moved to a small pen to allow them to bond. The doe should lick each kid to clean and dry it off.

This doe and her twin kids were moved to a small pen to allow them to bond. The doe should lick each kid to clean and dry it off.

First stage labor may begin 24 hours before delivery. Signs of first stage labor include pawing the bedding, nesting, restlessness, looking back at her sides, white discharge from the vulva, vulva becomes flabby, doe hollows out, lifts tail and becomes vocal. The doe will become soft around the tail head as the muscles relax to allow delivery. If you have been diligent in your daily observations, you will notice nannies that have hollowed out or dropped the kid into the birth canal. Rather than looking like a barrel they will now have very pronounced hip bones. This stage of labor may last for only a few hours or it may last for 12 to 24 hours. There is no need to get excited unless you notice the color of the discharge changing to bright red.

The beginning of second stage labor is signaled by labor pains and pushing. You may notice a water bag presenting. This is normal. The water bag may break or remain intact. A second bag may appear with darker fluid. Again, this is normal. Following the presentation of the water bags, the doe will normally get down to business. She will usually lay down to strain and may bleat loudly. The doe may stand, turn around several times and paw the bedding, then lay back down again to push. This routine may happen several times. You should begin to see, as the doe strains, a glimpse of the tip of the nose or tips of the kid's toes. If you see a nose on top of toes that are pointed up, you are in for a normal delivery. If you notice a nose but no toes or toes and no nose you may have to offer assistance to the doe. This is where the jewelry box comes in handy. Remove all jewelry from both hands and both arms. Lubricate your "reaching" hand and arm well with lubricating jelly. Don't use dish soap as it dries out the doe's normal lubrication. Lubricating jelly is inexpensive and can be a great aid in delivery. Assuming a normal delivery, the nanny should deliver a kid in less than an hour after beginning to push. Sometimes the doe may need a little help to just get the head delivered. Never pull while the doe is resting. Always work with the doe by pulling at the same time she is having a contraction. If you need to correct an abnormal position you should try to do the correction during a resting period. When pulling, be sure to pull down toward the doe's feet.

Clear the kid's nose with towels and lay the kid by the doe's nose if she doesn't get up to clean it off. If your doe doesn't seem to be cleaning the kid jump in and briskly rub the kid as dry as you can get it. You may need to use the child's aspirator to clean the mucus out of the kid's nose, although most times cleaning it just with a towel is sufficient. Using your clean scissors, trim the navel to about 3 inches and dip it in the 7% iodine. Do not trim the navel too short or it may begin to bleed.

Once the doe has completely finished having her kids, you can then move them to a smaller pen to allow her time to bond with her kids and to allow the kids to bond with their mother. Do not move them to a smaller pen before the doe is finished kidding as you increase the risk of her laying on the first kid as she delivers the next one.

Stage three labor is the delivery of the afterbirth. This may take several hours. Don't hurry the process by pulling on the afterbirth. When the afterbirth is passed, remove it from the pen. Does may try to eat the cleanings so always try to remove them when you notice they have been dropped. If you think your doe has not cleaned, you will need to call a vet to manually clean her. You will notice a bloody discharge from the doe's vulva for 2 to 3 weeks. The discharge should become less bloody and more clear as time passes. If you notice the doe smelling bad or if the discharge becomes pus colored or increases in volume, your doe may have an infection. Call your vet for a check up if this happens.