In the following video, you will see a baby born “en caul” – a phenomenon which occurs in less than one out of every 80, 000 births. This video, which in less than one day had reached over 6.8 million people, has allowed practitioners and the general public alike to view something that they likely would not experience within their lifetime.
In the video above you can see an infant within the amniotic sac, the umbilical cord covering its face, and the baby completely unaware of its birth. It gives us a small glimpse of how life truly is for infants in utero, and how calm they are while surrounded by warm amniotic fluid and hugged by a soft elastic membrane.
After watching this, it is no wonder to me why most newborns cry immediately after birth as our cold, hard environment appears to be the exact opposite of what they are used to. As a Registered Nurse, this video is a great reminder that nurses and doctors need to do everything possible to reduce stress on the infant – including practices such as skin-to-skin and delayed cord clamping, as well as reducing noise and cold stress.
What Exactly is an En Caul Birth?
While the caul is a term used to describe the amniotic membrane, an “en caul” birth occurs when the baby is born with the surrounding amniotic membrane completely intact. This means that while the baby has been pushed out of its mother’s womb, it still is within the very environment in which it has survived the past nine months in utero.
A Little History
The first baby to be born en caul was first reported in 1975. According to this article, the baby survived 25 minutes outside of its womb while remaining within the intact amniotic membrane. No negative effects were demonstrated after a follow-up of 3 years . This suggests that while many comments made on this viral video argue that they may have done baby harm by keeping it en caul long enough to film the video, the oxygen stored within the placenta must be able to sustain the baby for at least a short period of time.
New Research Suggests Benefits of Cesarean En Caul Deliveries of Premature Infants
Researchers in Taiwan have found that delivering extremely premature infants en caul via caesarean section can reduce the risk of injury during delivery in these fragile newborns . Delivering extremely premature, high risk infants en caul may prevent bruising and other traumas that they are at increased risk for during both vaginal and cesarean births. This study also suggests that performing an en caul cesarean section may be beneficial to junior doctors with limited experiences with extremely premature infants as it states performing the procedure is quite simple.
This Video Shows Us an Infant’s Reaction When Removed From the Amniotic Sac
Have you seen this video yet? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!
 Heggarty H, Shenouda D, Grisdale M. Born in a caul. Remarkable survival. Am J Dis Child 1975;129:955.
 Chia-Hui Lin, Shin-Yu Lin, Yu-Hsuan Yang, et al. Extremely preterm cesarean delivery “en caul”. Taiwan J Obstet Gynecol 2010;49;3.