Birth is a pretty amazing experience — leaving some to even label it a “miracle.”
Well, if childbirth is a miracle, then an en caul birth — which happens once in a rare while — is downright awe-inspiring.
An en caul birth is when the baby comes out still inside an intact amniotic sac (caul). This might make it look like your newborn is completely gift-wrapped in a soft, jello-like bubble.
An en caul birth is also called a “veiled birth.” This rare thing of beauty happens in less than
The amniotic sac is a bag of mostly water inside the womb (uterus). It’s sometimes also called the “membranes” because it’s made up of two layers. It begins filling with amniotic fluid shortly after conception.
Your baby comfortably floats inside this sac, rapidly growing and developing. Amniotic fluid is a light yellow liquid that protects your baby and keeps them warm.
Your baby helps keep this watery environment just right by sometimes drinking the amniotic liquid. This “magic juice” helps to develop baby’s lungs, stomach, intestines, muscles, and bones. It also helps your new baby have their first poop shortly after birth.
En caul births are less common in vaginal deliveries than in cesarean section (C-section) births. This is because the amniotic sac normally ruptures when you’re about to go into labor — your water breaks. Being induced to go into labor also usually breaks the sac.
Sometimes, you can go into labor without the sac breaking, and the baby is born en caul. In cesarean deliveries, doctors normally go through the amniotic sac to lift out the baby. But they can sometimes choose to lift out the entire baby and amniotic sac for an en caul birth.
In other words: In a vaginal delivery, an en caul birth happens on its own, completely by chance. In this type of birth, a baby born early (preterm or premature) is more likely to be en caul than a full term baby.
Is it worth ‘trying for’ if having a cesarean delivery?
There is no real evidence that having an en caul birth is better than a standard birth. So, it’s not something you need to request or try for.
There’s some belief that the caul absorbs and cushions all the bumps and scrapes as the baby is born. An en caul birth can be tricky, though. If the sac bursts during the delivery, things can get slippery and harder to handle.
Ultimately, it’s something you’ll need to discuss with your medical team.
A caul birth is not the same (or as rare) as an en caul birth. Two letters can make a difference! A caul birth — also known as a baby “born with the caul” — happens when a small piece of the membrane or sac covers the head or face.
Basically your baby is born with a thin, transparent, organic hat (or cowl scarf). Don’t worry — it’s very easy to take off. The doctor or midwife can quickly peel it off or snip it in the just the right place to remove it.
A caul happens when a small piece of the lining of the sac breaks away and sticks around the baby’s head, face, or both. Sometimes the piece is big enough to drape over the baby’s shoulders and chest — like a see-through superhero hood and cape.
So this is unlike an en caul birth, where baby is entirely encased in the sac.
A caul birth is more common than an en caul birth. Different names exist for it in different languages — “helmet,” “fillet,” “shirt,” and “bonnet” are a few.
As with all things rare and babies, some cultures and traditions believe that en caul births are spiritual or even magic.
Being born en caul is seen as a sign of good luck for both baby and parents. Parents and midwives in some cultures even dry and save the caul as a good luck charm.
One myth is that babies born en caul can never drown. (But beware: This isn’t true.) According to folklore, babies born en caul are destined for greatness.
En caul and caul births are linked to so much superstition that many famous people are said to have been born with a caul.
If your baby is born en caul, your healthcare provider will gently snip away at the sac to open it — a little like opening a water-filled bag or balloon. Water begins to drain out of the sac at birth. This makes the sac shrink a bit around the baby.
Sometimes a squirming baby will break open the en caul just after being born. It’s like a hatching baby!
During birth and right after, your baby will have plenty of air and everything else they need inside the amniotic sac. The umbilical cord (connected to the belly button) is filled with oxygen-rich blood.
En caul births aren’t much different than any other births. If you have a vaginal delivery, the main difference is you won’t feel your water breaking.
En caul births are rare — and an incredible thing to behold. They’re so rare that most delivery doctors never witness an en caul birth in their entire careers. If your little one is born inside a water balloon, consider yourself extra fortunate!