Recently, we were able to learn skills to help us advance our veterinary obstetrics knowledge. A large component of livestock veterinary medicine revolves around breeding, reproduction and the birth of animals. For this reason, it is important for us to know how to use our knowledge to step in when nature doesn’t take its course quite like it should.
In a lab setting, we had the opportunity to learn how to assess fetal positioning within the birth canal. The “normal” birthing position is an anterior presentation which means that the baby’s front limbs will exit the birth canal first. Using zippered bags holding practice calf models, we practiced skills that would help to deliver a calf in a dystocia (difficult birth) situation. We placed chains on the limbs to help to pull the calf from its mother and also practiced detecting fetal position in the birth canal. If the calf was not in the “normal” anterior position, it would be our job to reposition the animal to facilitate exit from the mother.
This experience was a lot of hard work. By the end of the lab, I was sweating and got quite an effective workout. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and practice these skills, using proper instrumentation and equipment to help us, in animal models before we would need to employ these skills to aid future patients. It allowed me the opportunity to gain confidence and experience in a low-stress setting. I have a lot of respect for veterinarians who engage in this sort of physical labor on a daily basis. Now I know that I better keep working on my upper body strength to ensure that I am prepared to join their ranks.