Woman gives birth in pool with dolphin, internet gives birth to meme.

(Update: From a French documentary film, says this 2004 snopes item.) This minute-and-a-half long YouTube video appears to show a mommy giving birth to her baby in a pool of water, while a curious dolphin swims and pokes around. What I don't know: Is this real life? Is it viral marketing? A film trailer? Fodder for some new furries fantasy site? Is the idea of a dolphin poking around the mom's ladyregions cute or disturbing? What does the infant think? How long can infants breathe underwater while connected via umbilical cord? Where did the video come from? Why can't I stop watching? Discuss. (via @tara, and others)


  1. Can someone tell me why a dolphine would want to be in a pool of water where some mammal is disgorging blood and feces? Is this a “magical” experience, or merely gross and cruel?

    1. I hate to tell you this… but dolphins are mammals. And when they give birth, they, as you say, disgorge blood and heaven only knows what else. So, it’s nothing they would not be used to.

  2. When having a natural childbirth underwater with dolphins is outlawed, only outlaws will…okay, never mind.

  3. Childbirth is a beautiful thing, but still. If I were that dude I’d be all like, “Does my hippy wife realize how much that fucking dolphin costs by the hour? Push already!”

  4. IIRC newborns don’t need to breathe for a few minutes(?) after birth, so being born in water is not a problem for them. Still they must take a lot of water into their mouths while screaming underwater, which must suck for them. Probably someone out there is more informed about this than me.

    1. the lungs of the baby are filled with water in the uterus, so the baby has no problem in the water, it can breath through the umbilical a whole day if you want. And underwater babies almost never cry because there is no large transition from water to air but a gentle water to water transition, this way you can let your baby get used to his/her new environment in a step by step way. Giving birth in water is the most natural way the give birth, strange that it is not the “normal” accepted way.

  5. Water births aren’t all that ‘out there’. They work pretty well for pain control and whatnot during labor. Two of my three kids were born that way.

    As for the dolphin part. ummm. yeah. not going there.

  6. I was going to say something clever and pithy about all of this, but honestly, why try, coldspell, you said it all.

    Although for what it’s worth, this video fell more into the “magical” pile for me than the “creepy/disturbing” pile.

  7. Knowing what I do about dolphins, namely that they are wild predators, I think this is recklessly dangerous for everyone involved. When we anthropomorphise the dolphin it seems like a beautiful and magical experience but the dolphin has no particular love for that woman or her child, and even if it did it wouldn’t necessarily show it in a human way. I’ve read stories of people getting ruptured organs because the moment they got in the water a dolphin slammed them in the stomach… playfully.

  8. The newborn doesn’t breath or pull any water into it’s mouth until after it comes up from the surface. Obviously you don’t want to let the newborn stay underwater for long but the debate goes on about how long is too long. Generally most midwives who practice this form of childbirth(that I’ve encountered), just bring the newborn to the surface straight away.

    My first daughter was a natural birth in water. I can’t tell you if she would have screamed or not as the cord was wrapped around her neck tight enough that they had to resuscitate her.

    On the topic of the dolphin being in the water with the couple. Well that’s just not right.

  9. Just enough knowledge to be dangerous:

    When a baby is born in water, as long as the temp of the water is near body temp, they don’t realize they’ve left the womb – and no breath is taken. They’re floating in fluid the whole time already, right?

    It’s only once they hit the air that they “wake up” and take that first breath. Or when they don’t, the Doc smacks ’em on the booty.

  10. @Junior

    Yes that’s right, the water temperature is important too otherwise the baby would be shocked by the temperature shift (which I imagine must have happened in this video)

  11. They’re floating in fluid the whole time already, right?

    Yeah! Except for the brief interlude where they’re being forced through a narrow muscular passage. Other than that its all floaty dreaminess.

  12. I don’t know, I remember the time my 4-year old lost his Spaghettios in the neighborhood pool, and it was hours before it was clean and pH-balanced again. I pity the mess that this self-indulgent video caused for the dolphin’s keeper to straighten out.

  13. My guess as to why the dolphin is interested: dolphin and human pheromones are very similar. Menstruating women tend to be followed by dolphins for this very reason. In addition to normal dolphin curiousness, the dolphin probably smelled something reproductive was afoot.

    As stated previously, the baby likely thought it was still in the womb, so did not try to start breathing. Even if the newborn tried to start breathing, it would not drown. Infants cannot drown, only asphyxiate, because their throats are designed not to let water into their lungs. Remember the baby from Nirvana’s Nevermind album cover? It has the magical drown-proof throat gifted to all babies. This feature also prevents them from articulating the normal range of human speech, and lessens as they grow older.

    Finally, I am really glad that was a flower at the end, and not the revoltingly tacky press-on nails I thought it was.

  14. @ JayConverse & Anonymous #1:

    I really doubt the birth could have fouled up the tank that badly. Dolphins and whales give birth in captivity all the time, and they have considerably more coming out of their uteruses than this lady.

    Remember, your neighborhood pool wasn’t designed to filter out massive amounts of cetacean waste every hour.

  15. This seems like a bad plan. It isn’t wildly common; but dolphins can be kill-crazed psychopaths when it amuses them.

    A dolphin could fuck up a baby real good in only a few moments just for giggles, I suspect, and you wouldn’t really want to be the one to find out.

  16. I’d be more concerned about bacteria in the water getting into the newborn’s system. There have been cases of home water births resulting in severe infections, imagine the crap floating around in a dolphin tank. Ick.

  17. @Brainspore –

    Excellent point, I hadn’t thought that this was done in a commercial cetacean tank, which would certainly have the organic waste capacity. Thanks for the engineering lesson.

    But my main point was I found the affair to be overly self-indulgent, the (true) Spaghettio story was meant to be humorous.

    How many billions of humans are there, and how many hundreds of cetacean tanks are there to birth in?

    1. Jay asked “How many billions of humans are there, and how many hundreds of cetacean tanks are there to birth in?”

      I’m pretty sure third world demand for cetacean tank water births will remain slight, so we can probably breathe easy there.

      But I also find it indulgent. The whole magical fantasy birth thing goes right over my head, and this is like some uber version of it. Having been present for one birth and with another just around the corner, it is my strong conviction that this event is best experienced in the comfort of a homely birthing centre. One that is situated in a major hospital.

  18. I don’t know, I remember the time my 4-year old lost his Spaghettios in the neighborhood pool, and it was hours before it was clean and pH-balanced again. I pity the mess that this self-indulgent video caused for the dolphin’s keeper to straighten out.

    Because dolphin’s never release any biological waste in their tanks ever… It’s designed for large mammals and all the organic load they release; it’s not supposed to be a sterile, private swimming pool. You act like this was done secretly or against the dolphin keeper’s wishes. I’m pretty sure they got permission to film the documentary in someone else’s sea life tank instead of sneaking in while the owner was on vacation.

  19. I’m thinking the dolphin is thinking something like “Man, I’m hungry. I could use a snack right now. Hey – what’s this?” Crazy.

  20. dolphin and human pheromones are very similar…the dolphin probably smelled something reproductive was afoot.

    Dolphins have little to no sense of smell. The olfactory regions of their brain are not nearly as developed as their auditory and visual areas. What is there to smell if your nose/blowhole is closed when underwater?

  21. Ughhh… this redesign is god awful, and confusing. The gadgets and offworld sections are still available, but are seemingly hidden from access on the main page. Why? Part of the reason I’ve always loved boingboing so much was for it’s elegant/classy simplicity compared to most other sites these days…

    1. Tyquasia, can’t you see we’re trying to have a sensible discussion about water birthing with dolphins here!?!

      If you follow this link, you’ll find that everyone loves the new design, and you’re the only person who’s having any problems or doubts.

  22. Some people say underwater birth is good, but with tearing of tissues sometimes being a part of birth I wouldn’t want to do it with dolphin crap in the water.

    A big thumbs down on the redesign from me, too. The new logo is ugly, I hate the Comic Sans font in the headings, and having a black speech bubble instead of a text link for comments is counter-intuitive. The site was fine the way it was. If something works don’t change it.

  23. Message To The People Of Earth (or a particular subset thereof):

    Dolphins are not magical creatures. They’re not mystical, they’re not going to imbue you with any kind of a aura by being near them. Being near one, touching it in any way, and/or copulating with one will not cure your cancer.

    Dolphins are not liquid-dwelling unicorns. Please get this through your thick anthropomorphizing skulls.

  24. You know, just because it appears to have been included in a 2007 French “documentary” does not conclusively prove that this scene is “real” or “verite”.

    To me it still looks staged or, in another word, not real. I’m very suspicious of the edit that comes just before the baby is apparently passed between the legs of the mother by the man standing behind her; and who is that singing, Dawn Upshaw? Talented artist, totally deserved her MacArthur fellowship, but I don’t think the sound of her voice carries underwater.

    I am thinking that Dolphin Birth is a real product that somebody sells, and that this clip, which is more or less a commercial for that kind of product, was included in the French “documentary” – but not necessarily meant to pass as a journalistically credible, documented example of one.

    1. I think the insurance companies are probably less worried about dolphin sonograms than they are about the possibility of the ocean’s fastest creature ramming a pregnant lady in the abdomen.

  25. This seems like a bad plan. It isn’t wildly common; but dolphins can be kill-crazed psychopaths when it amuses them.

    A dolphin could fuck up a baby real good in only a few moments just for giggles, I suspect, and you wouldn’t really want to be the one to find out.

    It’s rather amusing how much people think behaviors within our species are totally unique to mankind. (IMHO, this seems to come most often from the fundy types. ‘We [alone] are created in God’s image’, after all, so anything we do and any motivations any member of our society has MUST be unique to our species, right?)

  26. Now where is the childbirth video above water with a dog running and sniffing around???

    Unless it was THEIR dolphin and it really put the lady at ease to have the fishlike mammal poking around … i really wonder WTF ?

    1. From the page linked: ‘These intelligent mammals calm down any woman in childbirth, taking away the exertion, anxiety and fear factors, and create a common bio-field.’

      Bio-fields, eh? Dolphins also carry ‘benign energy’, for unfathomable reasons. People who think that dolphins are magical need their heads examining. I mean, look at the largest member of the dolphin family: the killer whale.

      1. “People who think that dolphins are magical need their heads examining”

        Magic is nothing else than more knowledge. A lot more knowledge about the mechanism of consciousness! So it is not a question of mystifying dolphins but of noticing their will to cooperate with human beings.

        The veils are lifting. At least for some of us…

  27. Dolphin-assisted birth: because the unicorns won’t break the virgin-only rule, even for your neo-hippie ass.

  28. @Ian70
    Of course dolphins aren’t the unicorns of the sea. Everyone knows that narwhals are the unicorns of the sea!

  29. This video is of extreme interest to me. In my historical novel Wai-nani, High Chiefess of Hawaii, Wai-nani brings her dolphin friends to the aid of the sacred bride for the delivery of her child. I read that dolphins become extremely excited when around a pregnant woman and that they create a soothing bath of sonar impulses they send to the mother. I found this fascinating. My books is fiction! To see what I had imagined come to life is a real WOW experience for me.
    Thank you-Linda

  30. If all babies could be born this peacefully it would be a totally different world – no yanking, pulling, machines, bright lights, loud voices, etc.

    “Dolphins appear to facilitate healing through mechanisms not readily reconciled with modern medical precepts. People frequently report that they become euphoric after swimming with these loving, graceful, and joyous creatures. In turn, an uplifted spirit seems to infuse beneficial healing effects into the mind and body. Numerous people who have serious illnesses and depression have reported dramatic, long-term, favorable changes in their emotional state.

    Scientists now know that these emotional changes (which last much longer than the “high” experienced from the release of endorphins, the body’s natural opiates) can initiate a cascade of health-enhancing hormonal and physiological changes. Children with a variety of developmental disabilities have shown remarkable improvements after dolphin-assisted therapy. Learning, cognitive abilities, concentration, communication, and ability to relate to others all improve.”


  31. I thought it was pretty nice. It seems to me (never having given birth) that doing so in a pool of water would be more comfortable than lying on a bed, more supportive, and the swirl of water soothing. As for the dolphin, it looked interested, like “Hey, we do it that way too.” Maybe it was a pleasant distraction for the mother? Not sure about the potential for violence.

  32. given all the science nerds that hang out on BB, i’m a bit shocked at some of the misinformation… babies breathing through embilical cords? not breathing at all for awhile? not so, not so. babies “practice” breathing while in utero, through their noses like the rest of us. they breathe in the amniotic fluid. they also pee and poop in the amniotic fluid…. and get hiccups

  33. “A baby doesn’t drown during a water birth because the baby is already in water in the womb. It takes air for breath and when a baby comes from water into water without the introduction of air, the lungs remain collapsed and no water can enter. Once the baby is brought to the surface and its face hits the air, breath is drawn and life on earth begins.” – Second link from googling “why don’t babies drown during water birth”
    Also, as someone who has given birth in the past, I think this looks rather peaceful and happy. Yeah, yeah those dolphin serial killers are plotting against us all.

  34. It seems to me that a mature female dolphin would be smart enough to recognise childbirth even in another species*. She might even be inclined to try to help, or at least offer support (emotional or floatational) since that’s what she would normally do at a dolphin birth.

    I’ve no idea what’s in this situation for the humans, though, unless the dolphin is a “close friend”.

    ( *Leaving aside any discussion of the “intelligence” of dolphins. I think we can agree that they are at least as smart as a cat, and plenty of cats show special behaviour towards small children, for example. )

  35. it is called Dolphin assisted waterbirth. its a real story. and there are more ppl doing it now. it is because dolphins are such kind and helpful animal. they are believed to have saved many shark attacks victims by protecting them and bringing them back to shore. the sound tht dolphins make (sonar?) are very soothing. they scan the tummy of the mum encouraging the mum to be relaxed and painless. the baby born under the assist of a dolphin tends to be high in IQ, strong physically and mentally. Dolphins may look like just any animals, but they are very thoughtful and kind. dolphins are also said to help phychologically challenged ppl too.

  36. dolphins use midwives in their own births, the mom has a designated “auntie”who stands by and helps the infant to the surface for its first breath,other females hang around to help out and give support to the mother .
    and thatbob , ive been delivering babies for 35 years and that baby came out of that woman vagina. there is the prerequisite bulging of the perinium, you can see two contractions where the uterus is pushing down and the lengthening(for want of a better way to describe it)of the roundness of the uterus into an oval as the baby moves past the pubic bone, and out through the vagina. and no the baby cant breathe all day through the umbilical cord,but for a bit of time?and it varies from baby to baby?it is fine without the o2 coming in though its lungs.it is good until the placenta lets go , really. but you want respirations established before then. the babies do not cry underwater, in fact many times gently birthed babies do not cry at all .
    peace on earth starts with birth.
    i did not open an account to leave this message, but ill leave my name with it, babz covington and if you have a serious birth question in or out of the water you would like answered.feel free to ask me on facebook.

  37. 0_o this is the weirdest thing i have ever seen…still when your around a beautiful animal like a dolphin i guess child birth is easier, i hope the tank got cleaned after that, i would feel sorry for the dolphin otherwise.

  38. Dolphin: “Is that tuna I smell? Is it tuna time? You’re keeping the tuna in there, okay I can get it from…WHAT THE F**K IS THIS S**T…HELP! SOMEONE CALL PETA! I’M BEING HELD CAPTIVE BY INSANE HIPPIES! OH GOD THE HORROR!!!!”

  39. I was lucky enough to swim with dolphins in Hawaii one day . . . they surrounded me and swam under me in circles . . . and their air bubbles came up and burst in my face . . . it was such a gift and 25 years later I am still feeling the effects of that day. It was a blessing on my life.

  40. i dont believe there are so many negative views of this. Dolphins are extremely inteligent, they would not hurt the baby or the mother. I do believe that a dolphin should have a way to leave if he/she wants to, and be introduced to the mother prior to birthing, but other than that i really dont see anything wrong with the whole process. The interesting thing is why so many people find this video wrong, but an image of a mother in pain giving birth in stirups with 10 doctors surrounding her normal??? are we a little bit brain washed???

  41. Dolphins are attracted and obsessed to birth and babys you can go up to the glasses in an Aquarium and the dolphin with come right up to pregnant belly, its said that instead of all the pain you would have from giving birth dolphins turn the pain into intense pleasure.

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