Couple Plans 'Dolphin-Assisted Birth'

Adam, Heather Barringer in Hawaii for the experience
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2013 9:03 AM CDT
Couple's 'Dolphin- Assisted Birth': Terrible Idea?
This undated photo provided courtesy of Dolphin Quest Hawaii shows Keo and her newborn calf.   (AP Photo/Dolphin Quest Hawaii)

A South Carolina couple is getting quite a bit of attention for their, shall we say, unconventional birthing plan: Adam and Heather Barringer headed to Hawaii last month, where they plan to welcome their baby in July via "dolphin-assisted birth," the Charlotte Observer reports. The Barringers are studying at the Sirius Institute, which fosters human-dolphin interaction, and will spend the weeks leading up to the birth bonding with a dolphin pod. And then, the main event, which will obviously take place in the water: "It’s total relaxation for the mother," explains Adam. Adds Heather, “Dolphins are very intelligent and healing, which in turn calms mother and baby for the whole process."

The plan has met with some incredulity (Jezebel calls it a "questionable life choice"), and a Discover writer goes so far as to say it's "possibly the worst idea, ever." Remember, Christie Wilcox points out, dolphins can be extremely aggressive. But Medical Daily takes the issue fairly seriously, and notes that dolphin-assisted therapy has existed for more than 25 years. In DAT, patients work on things like hand-eye coordination while swimming and playing with captive dolphins; the process is often used with children who suffer from autism, or patients with other mental or physical disabilities. In addition, the American Pregnancy Association has pointed out the benefits of normal, garden-variety water births. Even so, there's no scientific evidence at this point that dolphin-assisted birth would be beneficial to mother or child (or dolphin).

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