Dolphin-Assisted Births Seem Like Questionable Life Choices


Dolphins are magical, highly-intelligent creatures that play with surfers, save drunk people from riptides, and jump over the rings of Lisa Frank’s neon-splattered Saturn. They’re cosmic beings, dolphins are, in direct communication with the undying essence of the universe, privy to the semi-divine thalassic secrets buried deep in our oceans (read: aliens). They’re also murderous rapists with a taste for blood and the capacity for unlimited cruelty, both to their own kind and to other hapless sea creatures, like the cartilaginous puppy dogs we so derisively call “sharks.” A dolphin might bludgeon you to death with its snout just as quickly as it might nuzzle you, and you’d never know it because, no matter how many anthropomorphic qualities of intellectual expression you may have attributed to dolphins, you’ll never really understand what they’re thinking. That’s a big reason why you really shouldn’t ever consider having a dolphin-assisted birth, no matter how many serene transients you’ve heard rave about its therapeutic effects.

The news cycle is usually pretty slow over a holiday weekend, which inevitable lassitude paves the way for articles like this short profile of an affable enough couple of itinerant baristas who’ve decided to welcome their first child, Bodhi (because, obviously its name would be Bodhi), into the world via a dolphin-assisted birth. In Hawaii. Sounds magical, right? Adam and Heather will take their winter-pale skin and sandy dreadlocks all the way to Hawaii and let their son be coaxed into the world by a purportedly helpful dolphin and dolphin guru Star Newland, founder of the The Sirius Institute, and they’re going to carry the whole thing off without a trace of irony:

It is about reconnecting as humans with the dolphins so we can coexist in this world together and learn from one another,” says Heather.
The couple hopes to find this connection during prenatal and postnatal swims with the dolphins.
“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.
They believe a dolphin-assisted birth will be calming experience and beneficial.
“It’s total relaxation for the mother,” says Adam. “Dolphins are very intelligent and healing which in turn calms mother and baby for the whole process,” adds Heather.

It wouldn’t be at all difficult to mock Adam and Heather, but they seem really sincere, and making fun of sincere people is like making fun of folk music — after a while, you start to realize that you’re the asshole. It becomes especially hard to mock Adam and Heather when you read this detail about their life together:

Traveling and living in harmony with the earth is a way of life for this couple. They’ve traveled across the country, staying with friends, living in and out of their car and picking up odd jobs or doing trades when they need money, food or supplies.
“We are all about living off the earth,” says Adam. The couple has been together 11 years and married for four.

Maybe they’re really trustafarians taking advantage of their privilege while they live out a bohemian fantasy (a trip to Hawaii for a dolphin-assisted birth certainly sounds expensive), but still, anyone who can say, “We are all about living off the earth” with a straight face is probably impervious to ridicule, which is a state of being many strive for and only few ever truly achieve.

Christie Wilcox at Discover Magazine, however, spotted the profile about Adam and Heather and just had to set about dashing the couple’s dreams of communing with the natural world. Or at least informing the reading public why a dolphin-assisted birth is a terrible idea. For one thing, dolphins — and this is a really important thing to remember — are predators, aggressive, highly-intelligent predators. They beat up other animals for, like, no reason, and bull dolphins have been known to gang-rape female dolphins and even try to rape people. If you’ve ever been in the water and a dolphin randomly pops up next to you (which happens a lot more often at the Jersey shore than people seem willing to believe), your first thought usually isn’t, “Hey there, friend! Let’s surf these waves together!” It’s, “Holy fuck, that is a big animal and it has teeth.”

All of these aggressive dolphin behaviors, Wilcox further explains, are compounded when you’re in a vulnerable, gory state, i.e. going into labor:

Is this an animal you want to have at your side when you’re completely vulnerable?
What would you do if the dolphin does get aggressive, decides to attack the mother or even the newly-emerged baby? How would you protect either from a three-to-four hundred pound animal with lightning speed and agility that is more at home in the environment than you are? And that’s just the dolphin side of things. What if something goes wrong with the birth in general? What if the baby gets stuck, or the mother starts hemorrhaging? Do you really want to be deep in the ocean if something happens?

The question, to Wilcox, is clearly rhetorical. Present with all this evidence of dolphin cruelty, the answer, clearly, is that, no, giving birth next to a marine predator does not seem like a great idea. Curiously, that’s the conclusion almost all of the mothers who traveled to The Sirius Institute came to on their own — a Penn and Teller chit-chat with the Institute found revealed that none of the expectant mothers actually followed through with the ocean birth.

Heading to Hawaii for dolphin-assisted birth [Charlotte Observer]

Dolphin-Assisted Birth — Possibly the Worst Idea, Ever [Discover Magazine]

Image via AP, Jim Schulz

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