En Caul Birth Explained: Causes, Risks & What It Means

En Caul Birth Explained: Causes, Risks & What It Means

Babies have a tendency to arrive into this world in their own, special, unique ways

Some arrive via the vagina express. 🚉

Some come out the sun roof (c-section). 😎

And, in some rare cases, some come into the world still in their amniotic sac.

This phenomenon is known as an en caul birth.

(Who knew the miracle of childbirth could get any more miraculous?!)

But, what does it mean when a baby is delivered this way?

Is it harmful to the baby, or does it mean they’re supposed to be lucky?

We’ve got everything you need to know about en caul births here. 👇

In this article: 📝

  • What does ‘en caul’ mean?
  • What happens if a baby is born en caul?
  • Are en caul births dangerous?
  • How rare are en caul births?
  • Can twins be born en caul?
  • Are en caul babies special?
  • What famous people were born en caul?

What does ‘en caul’ mean?

An en caul birth is when the baby is delivered, completely enclosed, within the unruptured amniotic sac (caul). 🤯 [1]

So, picture a newborn baby in a clear, stretchy sac of fluid.

(If you ever had any of those alien goo toys when you were younger, it’s kinda a bit like that. 😅)

It’s French for ‘in sac’, which, in French, translates to ‘en caul’. 🇫🇷

You may also hear the terms ‘mermaid birth’ or ‘veiled birth’ — which means the same thing.

And, to be real with you, it’s kind of a big deal.

This only happens very rarely, so there’s not tons of evidence or documentation around it.

But, you know when your waters break before you go into labor?

That’s your amniotic sac rupturing. 💦

So, in the case of en caul births, you wouldn’t have that ‘waters breaking’ warning baby is on its way — it’s just full speed ahead, mama-to-be!

What happens if a baby is born en caul?

If your baby is born en caul, your doctor will quickly, but carefully, begin snipping away at the sac to gently open it.

In some cases, babies may break themselves free from the sac, like a hatching baby bird. 🤗

Once open, fluid will leak out of the sac, and baby will take their first breath.

But, after that, en caul births are actually pretty similar to normal births.

You’ll likely hear that beautiful baby’s first cry, and then the rest is history. 🫶

Want to hear from some Peanut mamas who’ve experienced their very own en caul births?

“My youngest was born vaginally on Easter Day of last year, in his own personal “egg”. It is extremely rare (but not any more dangerous) to still have the amniotic sack intact around the baby, and even more rare for it to contain no water. I wanted to share because it was pretty amazing! Anyone else have an en caul birth or seen one?” - Nikki. 🥜

“My baby arrived! Had an all natural unmedicated home birth on March 7th 2022. What an incredible experience, I wouldn’t have had it in the other way. He came out not only with a full head of hair, but he was actually born en caul, in his amniotic sack. His papa caught him in the sack, lowered him down onto the bed where he burst out all by himself. I’m so honored to have had a birth like his 🥰😍💕🙏🏼❤” - Hannah. 🥜

Are en caul births dangerous?

Nope — that’s the best bit.

They’re actually considered lucky (more on this later 👇). 🍀

There have been no associated harmful effects for baby, or mama, when the baby has been an en caul birth. [2]

And, remarkably, one instance recorded an infant in complete caul (whole body, not just face or head) survived 25 minutes if extrauterine life inside the intact sac. [3]

Up to three years later, no ill effects from this unusual birth had been recorded.

Risk factors for en caul births

Although en caul births aren’t dangerous, why they might happen could be because of pregnancy complications.

For example, en caul births can be associated with extremely premature babies (around 23 weeks), and they may happen more often in women who haven’t had pregnancies before. [4]

They can also be more common if the delivery is very fast, which would’ve given the amniotic sac less time to rupture.

But, again, there’s no danger of having en caul births that we know of — so, if it does happen, enjoy being one in 80,000 mama. 🤗

How rare are en caul births?

So, the word on the street is that this phenomenon occurs in less than 1 in 80,000 births. 🤯 [5]

To put that into perspective, that’s a 0.00125% chance of your baby being born this way.

So, to sum up, it’s pretty darn rare. 😅

They’re so rare that most obstetricians and midwives will never witness an en caul birth during their careers. [5]

But, they are supposed to be more common in c-sections, rather than vaginal births. [6]

This is because the amniotic sac has more of a chance of being preserved in caesareans, while vaginal birth is more likely to burst the sac of fluid.

So, if a baby is born vaginally en caul, that is a serious woah moment.

Can twins be born en caul?

Yep — they can!

And other multiple births, too, like triplets. [7]

In the case of twins, they may be sharing the amniotic fluid sac, or have one to themselves (depending on what type of twins they are).

What’s the difference between an ‘en caul’ birth, and a ‘caul’ birth?

So, actually quite a lot. [8]

Funny how two letters can make such a difference!

As we’ve mentioned above, an en caul birth is when the baby is delivered fully in their amniotic sac of fluid.

A caul birth, though, is when the baby is ‘born with the caul’ — and it happens when a small piece of the membrane or sac covers the face or head of the baby. [8]

It’s still a pretty phenomenal thing, but it’s not as rare as en caul births.

Are en caul babies special?

That’s the myth, yep!

Throughout history and in different cultures, many people believed that en caul babies were actually associated with good luck. 🍀 [5]

As well as this, they were thought to be associated with fame, or spiritual/magical abilities. 🧙‍♀️

There was even a myth that en caul babies couldn’t drown. 🤯 (Not true, obviously!)

Basically, there’s a whole lot of superstition around these phenomenal babies.

And although modern medicine has mostly quashed these myths, some cultures still believe an en caul baby can be very lucky.

What famous people were born en caul?

So, do we know anyone famous who was born en caul?!

  • 🧠 Sigmund Freud: You may have heard of this famous psychologist, as he was responsible for inventing and developing the technique of psychoanalysis. [10]
  • 🧽 Kim Woodburn: One for our UK audience — known for being a TV personality on How Clean Is Your House). [9]
  • 👑 Charles XII: King of Sweden! [11]
  • 🇺🇸 Joseph Smith: Founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, and of Mormonism. [12]

So, an eclectic bunch. 🤣

But that also enforces the theory that being born en caul has no associated impact on your life, and is just simply a rare and unusual way of making a debut into the world.

So, there you have it!

Everything there is to know about en caul births, demystified!

And, who knows, maybe you could find mamas on Peanut who’ve actually been through it?

Our Community is always here, ready for you to join in the conversation. 🥜


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