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Flipper Delivers: Dolphin-Assisted Births Could Be Coming to an Ocean Near You

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"Dr. Flipper to the OR, please. Paging Dr. Flipper. You are needed in the OR."

A dolphin OB/GYN might seem like something out of a cartoon or children's book, but believe it or not, dolphin assisted births have becomes a "thing." Pregnant women and couples visit human/dolphin habitats where the women give birth in....wait for it...the ocean.

That's right, folks: The woman gives birth in the ocean, with the assistance of a dolphin -- and a few creatures of the bipedal variety.

Dolphin assistance makes the mother feel better and the baby progress faster, according to some dolphin-assisted birth proponents. According to the website of The Sirius Institute, a Hawaii-based organization that provides human/dolphin birthing habitats, "Children born in the water with the dolphins develop six months faster over their first six months, have perhaps 150 grams more brain weight, and are ambidextrous."

Mary Getten, a Florida-based "animal communicator" who was the coordinator of the San Juan County Marine Mammal Stranding Network in Washington for a decade and has been communicating with dolphins over 20 years (but has no first-hand experience of dolphin assisted birth) told New Times, "I have observed dolphins in a captive situation that were very engaged in doing healing work with human patients, and I did see those patients come away with benefits, both physical and emotional. So perhaps in the right situation, dolphins would be interested and helpful in a birth."

Of course, according to her website, Getten also believes she can communicate with the spirits of dead animals. And other experts point out that dolphins can be violent. Here's a dolphin getting rough with a human. But if you ask us, she deserved it:

Getten continues, "I can say that spending time in the presence of dolphins expands your consciousness and brings a sense of deep peace and calm. They are masters at opening your heart, and what a wonderful place to be in emotionally during the birth process. I could see that being a marvelous environment for the baby to emerge into as well. So the higher consciousness of the dolphins would create a very sacred space and calm the mother."

What about killer dolphins? An article about dolphin assisted births in Time magazine contains quotes from experts who assert that dolphins are violent creatures and should not participate in human birth procedures at all.

"Not only do dolphins kill other animals, they kill baby dolphins using the same brutal tactics. No matter how cute they might appear, dolphins are not cuddly companions; they are real, large, ocean predators with a track record for violence -- even when it comes to humans," Christie Wilcox of Discover Magazine tells Time.

This dolphin seems a little confused about dolphin assisted births:

Getten disagrees. "Dolphins for the most part are highly evolved loving beings. I have never had a violent encounter with one in the wild, nor have I observed one. I did once see a captive dolphin ram a person, but then you will find a lot of aberrant behavior in captivity. I am aware of some documented dolphin violence in the wild, but I believe that it is the exception rather than the rule. In the wild, dolphins are curious and fun loving and will come close, but rarely do they touch people. Videos that you find on You Tube are often of dolphins that have been habituated to humans and have learned that they can get something from them if they persist."

So are dolphin assisted births an experience that could benefit you and your baby, or is it a marine mammal massacre waiting to happen?

I guess we'll have to wait until more mothers choose that route. In the meantime, Getten doesn't think we need stress incessantly. "I would not worry about dolphin violence in the birthing situation that you are researching."

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