En-Caul Birth: The miracle of birth and everything else:
Childbirth can be simple, wonderful, tricky, painful and challenging as well. As a mother though, it’s probably the best moment of your life.
Early this year, news of Silas Philips’s birth went viral over the internet. For the uninformed, Silas is a baby who was born inside his amniotic sac. The amniotic sac is the fluid-filled sac that contains and protects a fetus in the womb. Recall the film Nine months, when Julianne Moore exclaims, “Honey, my water broke!” to a bewildered Hugh Grant. The lady refers to the amniotic fluid indicating she has gone into labor.
Silas is a premature baby, born at 26 weeks or three months early. The doctor performing the Caesarean was stunned to see the baby cushioned inside the sac and still receiving oxygen through the placenta. The kind of delivery is extremely rare and is termed as en-caul birth. It occurs in less than one in 80,000 births (so the chance of you having one is, uh, negligible).
While in India, premature births are rather common, there has never been a report of an en-caul birth taking place. One can only imagine the hysteria it will cause among family and friends followed by the media frenzy with a well-known TV journo demanding the nation wants to know how it happened.
Women who have experienced the rare phenomenon should consider themselves lucky. It’s like being part of a VIP club that only a few are invited to join. Hollywood actress Jessica Alba had a similar experience in 2011! (Now isn’t that setting an elite trend?).
Natural birth promoters surely would applaud such a birth, if it happened, well naturally. Some are dead set against the artificial rupture of the membranes during active labor. They believe that women should be allowed to give birth the way their body leads them to. Medical intervention is considered unnecessary unless there is a complication or risk.
En-caul birth, however, is not something that you can prepare for. It usually occurs in premature babies (Jessica Alba’s case being an exception). Usually in Caesarean, as the surgeon makes the incision in the uterus, the scalpel tends to cut through the sac, thereby letting the fluid out. But somehow in this case, the doctor may have missed. Silas’s mom had no idea that her birth experience was so rare (like a shooting star) and she thought it was kinda cool.
There are even rumors circulating on the internet that babies born en-caul could grow up to be spiritual leaders (Wow! You just gave the world Osho). Well, it is good to know that babies born en-caul are healthy as they are protected by the amniotic sac. So that gives the preemies a good chance of survival.
Also a baby born en-caul doesn’t realize that it’s born. It is still inside the sac as it would be in the womb. If you were to ever have this experience, then do make it a point to give a big shout as you are the ONE (à la The Matrix) to have such an extraordinary birth experience. That doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t get to feel special. All birth stories are unique and every child is special. And no one really knows why en-caul really occurs.
But it is a sight to behold (so we are told). Through the transparent film of the sac you can make out the baby’s physical appearance – head, hair, arms, legs and even face. So it’s all exciting to have the sac rupture outside the uterus and watch the doctor lift the veil off your baby!
Having been through a Caesarean, I had a veil over me, preventing me from beholding the sight of my little one when he was pulled out. But the sound of his cry surely woke me up from my stupor, though the spinal bloc was effective throughout the procedure, thank god! And nothing compares to seeing your heart beat outside your body. So En-Caul, natural or Caesarean, consider yourself a goddess for bringing forth the next generation (I certainly do). Motherhood is the greatest contribution women can give to mankind (and then some if you get my gist, wink wink).