In 2018, a rural community in the Eastern Cape in South Africa was stunned and baffled after a dead woman gave birth inside a coffin.
Nomveliso Nomasonto Mdoyi of the Mthayisi village died suddenly after becoming shortness of breath at her home. She was nine months pregnant at the time of her death.
The 33-year-old deceased mother of five went through a rare occurrence termed “Coffin Birth” or postmortem fetal extrusion which is the expulsion of a fetus through the v@gina of the decomposing body of a dead pregnant woman. This is caused by the increasing pressure of intra-abdominal gases.
The Mthayisi village was unaware of the phenomenon and was traumatized at the discovery on the eve of the burial, reports local news portal Sowetan Live.
Fundile Makalana, the owner of the funeral home where the discovery was made said: “I have been in the business for more than 20 years and I have never heard of a dead woman giving birth.”
The deceased mother, Mandzala Mdoyi 76 said “ First I was devastated by the untimely death of my daughter and now I got the shock of my life to learn that she has given birth while she had been dead for 10 days. What is that? God please come and intervene.”
According to the family spokesman, Mbikelwa Mpithi, they would consult both medical experts and sangomas (South Africa healers) to find out more about the birth after death.
“We cannot sit down and fold hands as fi it is business as normal. We want to know more about this.”
The woman and her baby were buries together, despite several calls fro villagers to burn them both as it was suspected it was a case of withcraft.
It is not clear whether the baby’s life could have been saved had doctors provided different treatment when the mother fell ill.
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In the 8th century, a similar case happened when a pregnant woman died and was buried in the medieval Italian town of Imola. There was nothing unusual about that. However in 2010, when the woman’s grave was discovered , archaeologist observed a cluster of tiny bones lay between the woman’s legs - the fetus which appeared to have been born after her death.
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