A dead woman in South Africa “gave birth” to a baby ten days after her death. The stillborn baby’s body was discovered between her legs on the day before her funeral as morticians were about to prepare her for burial, The Daily Mail reports. The sight of baby left the funeral home directors understandably shocked.
‘I have been in the business for more than 20 years and I have never heard of a dead woman giving birth,’ said funeral home operator Lindokuhle Funeral Fundile Makalana, before adding that they were so shocked that they did not even verify the sex of the baby.
Although this seems like an incredible story, this isn’t the first time that a dead female corpse has expelled a baby. There’s even a medical term for it – postmortem fetal extrusion or coffin birth. Medical journal articles define it as the expulsion of a baby after the dead pregnant mother reaches an advanced state of decomposition. It’s believed to be caused by the buildup of gases in the body after death, which can distend the uterus and trigger total or partial fetal extrusion.
The woman, 33-year-old Nomveliso Nomasonto Mdoyi, was nine months pregnant when she died. She was rushed to the hospital after complaining of shortness of breath. She has left behind five other children. According to Times Live South Africa, some of her neighbors are calling the postmortem “birth” witchcraft.
Her mother expressed that she was already traumatized by the sudden death of her daughter, but now the news about the baby expelled from her corpse has deepened her heartache. A family spokesperson told Times Live that they plan to consult medical experts and sangomas for more explanations about why it happened. Sangoma is a Zulu term that is used to describe traditional healers in South Africa.
The Daily Mail reports that a funeral was later held for both mother and baby, and both were cremated in the same coffin.
Another case of coffin birth was documented by the December 2005 edition of the journal, Forensic Science, Medicine And Pathology. In this case, a 34-year-old woman’s dead body was found in an apartment with the head and chest of a dead baby between her legs. The woman was a heroin addict, and postmortem toxicology reports indicated that the child also had “acute heroin intoxication.”