Manually Dilating a Cervix

In this article:

  • case example of behavior of a doe who was in labor but not dilating
  • detailed instructions on how to manually dilate a cervix, what to do and what not to do

This is “stringing.” Amniotic fluid is hanging out and birth is imminent. I bemusedly observed this doe gobbling on food out at the feeder and again in the barn when I tossed a bale down. No indications of labor, no pawing, no obvious contractions, etc. Happily munching away without a seeming care in the world despite the fact that this is one of the few absolute signs of labor.

A couple of hours later, I went in to find that she was not dilating, but I could feel a kid moving on the other side of her cervix. I manually dilated and two live kids were born.

Manually dilating a cervix requires consistent pressure. In a normal presentation, a kid’s nose and hooves would be putting pressure against the cervix, triggering contractions and subsequent dilation. As the cervix begins to dilate, the kid moves into the space and the pressure continues to trigger contractions until dilation is complete and pushing can begin.

In a breech birth, the pressure is not applied at the right points (or at all in some cases) and contractions may be sporadic. There can also be a potential issue with calcium but that’s for another post. If calcium is needed, I don’t know of an herbal option but injectable calcium gluconate given orally is effective.

***The following steps assume you have already determined a need to dilate. Do not attempt this without a solid reason or you will cause harm.

To manually dilate, first it’s important to work with contractions. We can’t keep going without pauses, it’s really hard on the doe and exhausting for you. Pressure will stay consistent, but all movement stops when the doe stops to rest. ALL movement.

Insert a finger into the opening of the cervix. A ripe cervix will respond pretty quickly to this pressure and you’ll soon be able to get another finger in. When the doe is active, twist your fingers clockwise and counter clockwise, ringing the cervix with as much pressure as you can exert by making a peace sign with your fingers. Stop ringing and just maintain the peace sign with fingers spread as wide as you can when the doe pauses to rest. Don’t even twitch, you’ll cause her to try to push again and by the time you’re intervening like this, she’s already tired, so do your best to become completely immobile during rest periods.

Every time she begins another contraction, ring her cervix with consistent pressure, twisting left, twisting right. Add more fingers as you’re able, never letting off the pressure. Find something to lean on, center yourself and keep stable. It’s exhausting work, because you’re canty over a restless doe while trying not to lean on her and you can’t move AN INCH when she’s resting. 😅

You’ll know you’re on the right track because the cervix will be responding by dilating further. Usually within 30-45 minutes, dilation is complete and the doe takes over the rest. You may need to fish the kid into a proper position and depending on how long the doe has gone, she may be exhausted and need help getting the kid(s) out. Once they’re out, you both need a warm, energizing drink.

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