(Video) Baby Seal Pup Birth in La Jolla, California
Birth of a Baby Seal Pup on the Beach
In this short video, a baby seal emerges from its mother’s womb on a beach in La Jolla, California. Seal pups are often born within their intact amniotic sacs, and early bonding occurs between mother and baby seals as the pup goes through the process of breaking free of the sac. Lying sideways on her back and cushioned by the sand, the mother seal rocks softly as she pushes her pup into the world. Once born, seal pups are ready to nurse and swim almost immediately. Although the pup in this video appears to be quite large, the mother seal appears calm as her birth canal opens up to release her baby onto the shore. She is surrounded by other seals who rest on the beach while the gentle curve of the ocean tide flows up towards them.
For a pregnant woman, the image of this mother seal birthing her pup is helpful in that it shows how quick, smooth and natural a birth can be for a mammal. It is calming to watch the seal birth her baby with ease.
In her Guide to Childbirth, midwife Ina May Gaskin encourages pregnant women in labor to visualize themselves as large mammals giving birth. As discussed in my earlier blogpost, “Simulation of a Blue Whale Giving Birth,” the pregnant woman can tap into the natural power of these animals by visualizing herself as one of them, assisting herself in her own birth process.
Many of us have grown up with the idea that being like other primates in any way is somehow shameful or disgraceful. Given that all other primates are known to cope well with labor and birth, while civilized humans often aren’t, it seems that we would be wise to emulate other female primates as much as possible. My husband has often commented on the similarities between humans and other primates and finds no dishonor in being related to apes.
For my own part, I have little trouble thinking of myself as a type of ape, since I often used to imagine that I was a horse, a lion, or a dog when I was a young child. I was usually a horse when I was running and a noble-looking dog (a collie or a German shepherd) when I was sitting in the back of my dad’s car with my brother and sister, bored on the long trip to visit my rural relatives. In labor with my first baby twenty years later, without thinking about why, I reverted to the old pattern and imagined that I was a mountain lion. Emulating an animal made it easier for me to access that power that I instinctively knew I needed during labor.
I often suggest to pregnant women that they imagine themselves to be a large mammal when they are in labor. Many say it helps them to find the wild woman within and to tap into the ancient knowledge that is the potential of all women.
The mother seal in the La Jolla birth video exhibits natural calmness and ease as she births her large pup onto the beach. Like us, she is a powerful mammal who was engineered to give birth.
 Ina May Gaskin, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, New York: Bantam Dell, 2003, 245-246.