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Red Bag/Placenta Previa

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This morning I had a phone call and urgent Facebook message from a friend. Her mare was in labor and it was a Red Bag presentation and she didn't know what to do. My heart is hurting for her right now.

 

Please...if you have a pregnant mare......please research this, just in case.

 

In the 25 years we've been involved with foaling, we've only had TWO placenta previa presentations....commonly called Red Bags.... because that's what it looks like. Instead of seeing the white bubble with two front feet and a nose, you see the raw red membrane of the placenta pushing out. (I'm knocking on wood right now because one never knows....)

 

Keep a knife or sharp scissors in your foaling kit for this possibility. You only have a few minutes to jump in and act. 90 percent of the time the foal is in the proper presentation inside the bag (the placenta) and it has pulled away from the mare's uterus too quickly, so the foal is no longer receiving oxygen through the umbilical cord.

 

The moment you see red appear instead of the white bubble, grab the red and tear or cut. Reach in and feel for legs. Work with the mare's contractions and pull.... Pull downward. (We were lucky and realized immediately what was happening and reacted.)

 

Once the foal is out with the bag, it means carefully breaking the umbilical cord in the cleanest way possible and being extra diligent about dousing the foal's navel with iodine/bedadine/vetricyn - which ever you use. The foal may also be oxygen deprived and "slow". Nose to mouth CPR may help...Having your vet on their way too..... Usually the foal will end up being fine.

 

Sadly, there is a small percentage of "Red Bags" that occur because the foal has already died inutero. Essentially, it's either a late abortion or still born. This is when the foal has NOT positioned itself properly for birthing and you are are dealing with both a distocia/malpresentation AND a placenta previa.......This is what my friend had. Both her vet and I have tried to explain to her that because the foal was probably already dead with his feet folded back (often called a parachute position), all that could be done was to help the mare......and get the dead foal out in any way possible without damaging her.

 

On a positive note, my friend's mare only has bruising and a small tear to her vaginal opening from the manipulation in getting the foal out. Stupid vet didn't advise her about Banamine, for the pain, but she's been given it now. And I've advised she give the mare more this evening. The mare has also been given antibiotics.

 

Sorry this is so long, but I felt this was important to share with foaling season upon us in the Northern Hemisphere and the topic hadn't come up recently.

 

 

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I get a fair number of red bags here, but I'm always here for my mares, 29 foalings and haven't missed one yet, so it doesn't worry me so much. I'm there, I see the red coming and break it open before it makes it out very far, from there the delivery goes quite normally except I help it along a bit as I don't want an already oxygen hungry baby waiting any longer than absolutely necessary. But if you're not there, yes it is a horrible thing. :(

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There is a "pinned" thread at the top of this forum for dystocias, too, and it's full of information on how to aid in the delivery of these special little ones. Please take time to read, because red bags are not the only "desperate" situations these little mares can find themselves in.

 

Thank you for bringing up this very important topic, and I'm glad your friend's mare was okay but sorry she lost the foal. Please invite her here if she'd like and we members can help by answering any questions she may have. Was this her only foals for this year?

 

And Amanda -- BEING THERE is the key to saving many babies and their mommas! KUDOS for always being such an attentive owner. :ThumbUp

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Yes This is her only foal for this year.....sadly. She bought the mare pregnant. I will invite her to join.

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UPDATE on my friend's mare that had the Red Bag Distocia..... I had advised her that the mare needed to be flushed and infused because of all of the manipulation up inside her.....She listened to her vet who poo-pooed that because he'd given her a 5-day antibiotic.

 

The mare went downhill and showed she was going toxic. The first vet has been fired and a second vet has done a flushing and infusion with genticin. The second

vet suspects that a small piece of placenta was retained. (This is why owners need to be proactive and always inspect the placenta. If we're not sure, we pull out a hose. A complete one will fill like a water balloon.)

 

I personally don't like this second vet, but at least I think the mare is in better hands now.......Praying, with fingers crossed.....

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