Horrible Idea Of The Week: Dolphin-Assisted Birth

You should have humans, not dolphins, assist in the birth of your child.

UPDATE: 9/4, 9:55 p.m. --  Maika Suneagle, Dorina Rosin's husband, contacted The Huffington Post and said that media reports about the couple were inaccurate, and that Rosin never actually planned to give birth in the ocean.

"We were planning on having a water birth in a pool in our yard, which is near the ocean," Suneagle said. "After watching the film it seems like they misrepresented our story and implied that we were giving birth in the ocean."

Producers of the documentary did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Original story:

Considering enlisting dolphins to help deliver your baby? Don’t.

Dorina Rosin, a Hawaii resident planning to give birth in the ocean surrounded by dolphins, is one of many moms-to-be featured in “Extraordinary Births,” a British documentary airing Wednesday night on the U.K.'s Channel 4.

Rosin and her husband run a spiritual healing center in Hawaii and purportedly believe that the dolphins will make giving birth a better experience, according to the Metro.

The couple did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but dolphin experts said they wouldn’t be surprised if Rosin actually did give birth in the ocean.

“I think there’s every possibility somebody’s doing it,” Hardy Jones, executive director of ocean conservation group Blue Voice, told HuffPost. “There are people who have this kind of belief that having a child with dolphins present is a good idea.”

Jones, however, said he's familiar with the waters surrounding Hawaii, and they're not a safe place to be going into labor.

“You have tiger sharks, hammerhead sharks. They do [also] have white sharks in Hawaii,” he said. “If a woman is going to be giving birth, she’s going to be extruding a certain amount of blood. Sharks are attracted by blood. … It’s dangerous for the mother, for her attendants, for the infant, and it’s also dangerous for the dolphins.” 

Jones said he didn’t think it was likely that the dolphins themselves presented much danger to the woman. “I have seen pregnant women in the water with dolphins, and they’re really fascinated with this,” he said. A dolphin’s sonar may enable the animal to detect a developing fetus in the womb, he added.

Watch Rosin swim with dolphins at 38-weeks pregnant (story continues below):

Not everyone agrees that the dolphins are necessarily benign. Lori Marino, founder and director of the Kimmela Center, an animal advocacy group focused on scientific research, emphasized that dolphins are unpredictable wild animals.

“Dolphins are wild animals, and the notion that they care about an unborn fetus in a human and want to somehow help that child be born is preposterous,” she said.

Even a friendly, well-intentioned dolphin could easily inadvertently hurt the woman or newborn, Marino added. “It’s a totally unnatural situation, and to put a newborn baby in that situation is totally irresponsible,” she said.

And what about harm to the dolphins? The animals in the documentary are wild, so the ethical issues surrounding captive “swim with dolphins” programs -- where the animals suffer high levels of stress and trauma -- don’t apply.

Even so, Marino said, anything that promotes the false idea that dolphins have special healing powers fuels the market for bogus programs like “dolphin-assisted therapy” -- a controversial form of animal-based therapy that providers claim can treat a host of physical and psychological ailments.

“It’s basically based upon pseudoscience,” Marino said. Such programs not only scam people out of their money, she added, but if they use captive dolphins, they're also absolutely horrible for the animals. 

“These places will tell you ‘[the dolphins] want to be there, they have a mission to help people,’ and in fact they’ve either been either captured from the wild and taken away from their social groups, or they were born in captivity where they never get chance to ever really be a dolphin,” she said.

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