Dolphins May Not Make Good Birth Coaches

As I skimmed the news last week I came across this headline. Unable to resist, I continued to read what would surely contain sage words of wisdom.

As I began to read, I was introduced to a couple who was planning to venture out onto the open seas for the birth of their child, hoping to be assisted through the process by dolphins.  They had heard of other dolphin assisted births where the mother, newborn, and dolphins frolicked together immediately after being born.  They were enticed by stories of dolphins bringing babies up to the surface for their first breath of air. The article hinted at research showing that children who were brought into the world in such unusual, albeit magical fashion, had superior development and intelligence, and were able to speak dolphin from birth. (Ummm . . . because somebody is interpreting this? Should I be kicking myself for not having had the squeaky noises of my own kids interpreted?)

Unable to coordinate an advance plan with the dolphins, the couple was simply planning to head out onto the ocean at the onset of labour, hoping that if they showed up, the dolphins would too.  They realized that there was no tried and true way to summon these helpful midwives.


Ok. I don’t know how to say this without too much unnecessary detail, but, I’ve given birth. Four times. In not one of those experiences did I think a dolphin would have improved the situation. In the mind-numbing pain and fatigue of the event, I never once thought of my distant mammal relation.

In fact, truth be told, I was at times loud and a bit thrashy. I don’t know that this would be the best time to be out on the ocean. While I can swim a little, I certainly wouldn’t trust my skills out in the middle of the sea while in the throes of labour.

I’m thinking if life jackets are mandatory while boating, they would probably come in handy while giving birth in the ocean. But where would you put them? Would you wear floaties around your arms and legs? I guess you’d have to wear one around your neck to ensure your face didn’t go under water – a lot of good it would do to have your arms and legs above the surface if your face wasn’t. I can’t quite imagine how to accomplish the required buoyancy.   (Snorkel? Scuba Gear? It would definitely change breathing technique.)

I’m also saddened to admit it, but I was also somewhat unkind whilst in the midst of labour. During the worst of it, everyone annoyed me. That might even be putting it mildly. The chatty nurses, the doctor who wouldn’t say much, the birth coaches who Would. Not. Tell. Me. The. Time. No matter how often I asked. Don’t even get me started on the snacking sounds and smells.  It all made me feel a little crazy.


I’ve heard dolphin chatter in the wild. It’s sort of cute. For a little while. After about ten minutes though, it begins to sound like a room full of toddlers asking for snacks, telling you they have to go to the bathroom, wondering why they can’t put a knife in the socket, or why the sky is blue. It’s redundant and grating. I don’t imagine they smell altogether pleasant either.  Having found medical professionals and loved ones annoying during labour, I can’t imagine the dolphins would be soothing.

I must finally point out another concern. All that bloody thrashing commotion seems like it could draw the attention of more dangerous ocean inhabitants.  Like, for example, sharks.  (Anybody seen Jaws?)

Not all was rosy, the article conceded and it even went on to sound a warning.  It admitted that though there is scant evidence to prove this, (sheer lack of evidence, perhaps?) researchers are beginning to wonder if dolphin assisted births may pose a danger to both mother and child. It speculated that though dolphins are intelligent mammals, they could potentially prove to be unpredictable and perhaps even aggressive. (I pause here to think how I would feel should some distant relation decide to show up unannounced and give birth in my living room.)

The article concluded by finishing the story of the couple it started with. Despite their best efforts, they were unable to make it out onto the ocean in time and ended up giving birth under much different than expected circumstances. (Not an altogether shocking outcome, I’ll admit.)

I make light of this article, but to be honest, as I read I shook my head. I was struck by our proclivity to seek solutions in the strangest of places.

We live in a world riddled with problems.

We also live in a world ripe with grace.

Where will we look for help?

I lift up my eyes to the hills. 

From where does my help come? 

My help comes from the LORD, 

who made heaven and earth.

(Psalm 121:1-2)


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