Bringing a life into this world is one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of life. Childbirth is simply a miracle and when it’s an en caul birth, it can be pretty amazing. An en caul birth is when the baby comes out inside the amniotic sac. The amniotic sac will remain unbroken, making the newborn appear to be inside a watery bubble. The chances of an en caul birth are extremely rare. And the caul (amniotic sac) is completely harmless and can be easily removed by the midwife or the doctor.
In a few cases, the caul membrane will be preserved and given to the new parents. In many cases, the parents may not even know that their child was born with a caul. This will depend on the particular practices of the hospital.
What Is En Caul Birth?
In this type of birth, the baby is born completely covered by the amniotic sac. The sac also comes out at birth, while the baby is inside of a partially broken or an unbroken membrane. This might look like the baby is completely covered in a soft, water-balloon, or a water-filled bubble.
This type of birth is sometimes also called ‘veiled birth’. It is very rare that fewer than 1 in 80000 births is en caul. But most en-caul births occur during pre-term or premature births.
Difference Between Caul Birth and En Caul Birth
The caul birth is not as rare as en caul birth, and these are not the same things. A caul birth is when a piece of sac or membrane covers the face or the head of the baby. Sometimes, the piece, when large enough, would drape over the chest and shoulder. Usually, these babies would be born with a transparent, thin, or organic hat, which can be taken off very easily. The midwife or the doctor can snip it away or quickly peel it off after birth and remove it completely.
This is different from an en caul birth, where the baby is completely covered in the sac. When compared to an en caul birth, a caul birth is usually more common.
Causes of an En Caul Birth
The amniotic sac is a bag usually filled with water present inside the uterus (womb). Since it is made up of two layers, it is sometimes called the ‘membranes’. Shortly after conception, the amniotic sac starts to fill with amniotic fluid.
The baby usually comfortably floats inside the amniotic sac, developing and growing in it. The fluid is a light yellow liquid and it protects the baby inside the womb and keeps it warm. This watery environment is kept right by the baby by sometimes drinking this amniotic liquid. The liquid also helps the baby develop its stomach, lungs, muscles, intestines, and bones.
The chances of an en caul birth are less during vaginal delivery as compared to C-section births. The reason for this is that when you are about to go into labour, the amniotic sac usually ruptures (or your water breaks). The sac also breaks when you are being induced to go into labour. The reason for en caul birth (or babies born in the sac) could be:
- Sometimes, the sac would not break even when you are going into labour, and this causes the baby to be born en caul.
- Though doctors normally go through the sac in cesarean deliveries to lift the baby, they may sometimes choose to lift out the baby along with the amniotic sac, causing an en caul birth.
Therefore, en caul birth happens on its own during a vaginal delivery, completely by chance. However, this type of birth may happen when the baby is born early (premature or preterm) and mostly not for full-term deliveries of babies.
Should You Have a C-Section for an En Caul Birth?
No real evidence shows that en caul birth is better than normal delivery. Therefore, this is not something you should try or request. Some people believe that the amniotic sac cushions and absorbs all the bumps and scrapes when the little one is born. But, an en caul birth is usually very tricky. During the delivery, if the amniotic sac bursts, then it would become very slippery and the situation would be harder to handle. Therefore, it is something you could want to talk about with your medical team.
Is There a Significance of an En Caul Birth?
En caul birth is believed to be spiritual or even magical in some traditions and cultures. It is believed that en caul birth is a sign of good luck for the parents and the baby. In a few cultures, the midwives or the parents even preserve the caul after drying it since they believe it to be a good luck charm. It is also believed that babies with a caul are destined for greatness. Another belief is that babies born en caul never drown, but it may not be true.
What Happens After the En Caul Birth?
When the baby is born en caul, here’s what the doctor would do.
- The doctor would gently cut the sac to open it (something like cutting open a balloon or bag filled with water). Water will start draining out of the amniotic sac and the sac will shrink a little.
- Other times, the en caul would be broken by the squirming baby after he is born, just like hatching.
En caul births are usually not very different from other births. During a vaginal delivery, the biggest difference would be that you will not feel the water breaking. En caul deliveries are rare and in case your baby is born en caul, consider yourself fortunate and do not panic. You and your baby are going to be just fine!