You might have heard of music, massage and baths to help a woman in labour, but have you ever thought about swimming with dolphins?
That's what a US couple plan to do in Hawaii when they welcome their baby into the world.
Heather Barrington, 27, and her husband Adam, 29, have signed up for a "dolphin assisted birth" at the Sirus Institute in Hawaii.
The program involves prenatal swims with dolphins to form a connection with a pod, before giving birth surrounded by dolphins.
"It is about reconnecting as humans with the dolphins so we can coexist in this world together and learn from one another," Heather told the Charlotte Observer.
"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 labour. Dolphins are very intelligent and healing which in turn calms mother and baby for the whole process."
While this might sound like the stuff of movies, doula Renee Adair, director of the Australian Doula College, told ninemsn that Russians have been doing this since the 1980s.
"They had birthing camps in the Black Sea in the summer," she said.
"The women would enter the water to labour and the dolphins would come around, appearing to understand that the woman was labouring. They were gentle around the babies and the women."
Dolphins make great birthing companions
Adair said it's not surprising dolphins make great birthing companions, considering how they help each other give birth in the ocean.
"When you look at dolphins birthing, they almost have doulas and midwives with them," she said.
"The male dolphins are not present and the female dolphins all surround the birthing dolphin and assist her and the baby. Particularly when the baby is born and needs to come up to take its first breath, one of the other females will nudge it to the top."
Adair also pointed out that dolphins have been used in rehabilitation and in care for disabled people and those with mental health issues.
"They bring joy and harmony in children and adults," she said.
There are also reports of pregnant women attracting dolphins at Monkey Mia, the West Australian tourist destination where dolphins come to shore to be hand-fed.
Adair said she hasn't heard of dolphin-assisted births in Australia, but she's keen to find out more.
"They are highly intelligent creatures and I don't know if we give them enough credit," she said.
While it's not likely you'll be able to bring a dolphin into your birthing suite, Adair said water births are becoming increasingly popular.
"Water birth in itself has come a long way here in Australia — it's utilised greatly now across our hospital system, it's not just for home births and that has given women a great degree of tranquillity," she said.
"A lot of women feel they are able to have some buoyancy and feel more in control."
Source: Charlotte Observer Author: Kimberly Gillan, Approving editor Rory Kinsella