The human body is capable of doing extraordinary things while alive but reacts in a completely different way when dead. There have been many instances where people have heard corpses exhaling during a funeral.
Obviously, this would have led many to believe that the person is still alive or, if you believe in that sort of thing, the dead are rising.
Well, turns out, there's an all new source of horror with dead people coming right out of the village of Mthayisi in South Africa. This could be scary or sad depending on how your brain is wired.
Thirty-three-year-old Nomveliso Nomasonto Mdoyi complained all of a sudden of breathlessness while she was sitting in her home in the village. The next thing you know, she dies.
The mother-of-five was grieved by many in the village but her body was given to funeral directors before her burial. Ten days after she passed away, the day before her funeral, the staff of the funeral home found something shocking.
When they were about to get her body prepped for the service, they found a stillborn in between the lifeless woman's legs.
Local media in South Africa have quoted doctors saying that this happens when the relaxation of the muscles in the body after death. Even a build-up of bacteria in the body can cause an unborn baby to be expelled.
Fundile Makalana, the boss of all the funeral directors at Lindokuhle Funeral, has said: "When we took the body from the mortuary tray to her coffin we discovered that there was a newly born baby between her legs."
"The baby was dead. We were so shocked and frightened that we did not even have time to look at the sex of the baby. I have been in the business for more than 20 years and I have never heard of a dead woman giving birth."
The woman's 76-year-old mother, Mandzala Mdoyi, was even more grief-stricken after the news that she would have had her sixth grandchild.
She said: "We appeal to educated people, people who know better, to please cool us down and explain to us how it is possible for a dead woman to give birth."
"I am now over 70 years old and never heard of such a thing. Why is that happening to my child?"
"First, I was devastated by the untimely death of my daughter and now I got the shock of my life to learn that she had given birth while she had been dead for 10 days. What is that? God please come and intervene?"
There was the talk of witchcraft going on in the village but the family put on a brave face and ignored all the negative talk. They held a funeral for the woman with her baby inside the coffin and then cremated them both.
No one is sure if the baby could have been saved if the doctors, who were treating the mother, had provided a different treatment at the time that the mother had fallen ill.
Piggybacking off the bereaved old woman's questions about what happened to her daughter, this brings us to the most interesting question.
What is a coffin birth?
The boring medical jargon for the phenomenon that took place in South Africa is known as post mortem foetal extrusion.
Basically, when the body is going through the decomposition process, tissues in the body become depleted of oxygen and other gases such as carbon dioxide and methane are released into the body.
At the same time that this is all happening, the organ tissues are weakened considerably by things called exoenzymes. These exoenzymes are secreted by bacteria which is present in the body.
About two to five days after death, the now-weakened tissues get inflated with the diffusion of these excess gasses in the body. This is what causes the limbs and torso of the body to bloat.
There is so much pressure in the body that it forces body fluids from any natural nooks and crannies in the body. The amniotic membrane in the pregnant woman would stretch out and separate.
The gas which has now collected in the abdomen will cause the uterus to go into a prolapse and the foetus will be expelled through the vaginal canal.
There has never been a case of coffin birth where the baby has survived.
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