Mom Who Birthed Her Child in the Ocean Gives New Meaning to a Water Birth

A woman is making waves on social media for her unassisted pregnancy and free birth—was it safe?

Pregnant woman standing in the sea at backlight
Photo: Getty

There are water births, and then there's this.

Josy Peukert gave birth to her son, appropriately named Bodhi Amor Ocean Cornelius, in the Pacific Ocean. Only her husband, Benni Cornelius, was there. He filmed the unassisted birth, which took place at Playa Majagual, Nicaragua, in February. The video has since gone viral on Instagram.

While many of the thousands of commenters congratulated the new mama and called the video "beautiful," others were highly concerned.

"Is it sanitary? There's a lot of bacteria in the sea," one person asked.

Others called having an unassisted birth dangerous. Even people with complications-free pregnancies can run into issues during labor and delivery, including fetal distress that can be fatal.

Peukert, who has seven other children, also didn't attend pre-natal appointments. She believed an unassisted pregnancy and free birth were best for her family.

"My first birth was traumatic in a clinic, and my second birth was a home birth, but by the third, even a midwife in my home was too much," Peukert told the New York Post. "This time, I had no doctor's appointments or scans or outside influence."

And Peukert is shrugging off criticism that what she did was unsafe. "He is perfectly healthy," Peukert told the Post. "I did all the research I needed to to make sure it was safer. Water is a barrier that is medically proven."

Experts are split on whether water births, which typically happen at birthing centers, are safe. The ACOG advises against them, saying there's insufficient data that the benefits outweigh the risk. But the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the American College of Nurse–Midwives support them for people experiencing uncomplicated pregnancies and labors.

As for free births? Peukert and Bodhi are both doing well—and it's great her birth plan worked out. Experts recommend attending pre-natal appointments and having an OB-GYN or midwife on hand for the delivery, regardless of where it happens, to ensure the birthing person and baby are safe.

Providers are typically willing to stick with a person's birth preferences, such as unmedicated vaginal home births and delayed cord clamping, unless a safety issue arises.

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