A pregnant woman and her husband have traveled to Hawaii where they plan on having a “dolphin-assisted birth,” a water delivery among dolphins, according to Medical Daily.
Heather Barrington, 27, and her husband Adam, 29, of South Carolina, are preparing for the July arrival of their first child through a series of prenatal and postnatal swims with a pod of dolphins at The Sirius Institute in Pohoa, Hawaii.
The Sirius Institute describes itself as a "a research consortium with the purpose of 'dolphinizing' the planet." They recently set up the Dolphin Attended, Water, Natural and Gentle Birth Center (DAWN), due to what they claim is an increasing demand on their web site for people looking to give birth near dolphins. The Sirius Institute claims that giving birth with dolphins is part of an ancient native Hawaiian practice.
While dolphin-assisted births are rare, dolphin assisted therapy (DAT) has been used for more than 25 years in patients with mental and physical disabilities and autism, according to Medical Daily. During DAT, patients swim and play with dolphins living in captivity while completing tasks meant to improve skills like hand-eye coordination. However, scientists claim there is little scientific evidence indicating that DAT is therapeutically effective.
Water births – without the presence of dolphins –have proven benefits, including more efficient contractions, improved blood circulation for the mother, less pain and more oxygen for the baby, according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA). However, the APA noted that few studies have been done examining the risks associated with water births.
In the event that a “dolphin-assisted” birth cannot occur, the couple has made plans to deliver with a midwife. Experts point out that dolphins are predators and can become aggressive, though dolphin-related injuries among people are relatively rare, Medical Daily reported.
“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,” Heather told the South Charlotte News.