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Dolphin-Assisted Birth: A Primer

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The term “dolphin-assisted birth” is trending – and you’re wondering “what in the hell?” Yes, it’s real. Yes, there are people actively pursuing it, promoting it, etc. Here’s what you need to know.

What the what?

A dolphin-assisted birth isn’t actually the process of Flipper delivering your child, but more like an underwater birth. The exception being you’re generally in the open ocean and there are wild dolphins frolicking around you.

You can actually do this?

There is a group called the Sirius Institute out of Hawaii that will assist expectant mothers with giving birth in the middle of a wild pod of dolphins. The group’s work is based off of the experiences of a Russian midwife named Igor Tscharkofsy who helped women birth in the Black Sea with dolphins back in the 1970s.

What are the supposed benefits?

The Sirius Institute has some “interesting” claims that dolphins can heal a wide variety of health conditions including “depression, autism, Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, and microscopically.” When born in the presence of dolphins, they believe that children develop faster, have larger brains, and are generally ambidextrous.

Are there risks?

Definitely. For one, you’re in the open ocean, so access to medical assistance might be limited. That being said, I would hope the people at the Sirius Institute would have such a backup plan on standby in a boat. We might learn a bit more when Adam Barringer, 29, and his pregnant wife Heather, 27, report back on the experience. They’re the ones who brought a tremendous amount of attention to this last week with their interview in the Charlotte Observer.

“Having that connection with the pod of dolphins anytime – even if the birth doesn’t happen in the water – still brings peace, comfort and strength to the mother and baby during labor,” says Heather.

Ok – what about sharks?

We’re sure (fingers-crossed) the Institute has thought of this as well – but yes, sharks could be a concern. In particular because birthing does lead to blood in the water.

What about the rumors that male dolphins have a violence tendency to “rape” each other and human swimmers?

Nope. As Steven notes below, I interpreted his article poorly. The truth is, male dolphins can be particularly aggressive. “Male dolphins rape female dolphins,” he writes. “Male dolphins even forcibly mount other male dolphins.” Check out the full article here.

Is birthing with dolphins really that popular?

The Sirius Institute claims they are “now receiving up to 3-4 requests per week through the Internet from people searching for a place to birth with dolphins.”

Has anyone captured this on video?

Just the one below – of a water birth with a dolphin in captivity. It’s sweet (minus the whole “dolphin in captivity” part) but much different from an open ocean, wild pod scenario. So far, no one has recorded that experience.

Have you or someone you know had a dolphin-assisted birth? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

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