It's not the first time we've seen a baby born en caul. However, it is such a rare occurrence that parents, health care professionals, and birth photographers feel the need to celebrate its beauty. After all, it's like seeing a baby as what he would have looked like if you can peek inside the womb.
To be "born with caul intact" means that a child is born with the amniotic sac still covering the head. The amniotic sac is a thin membrane that envelopes babies in their mother's womb. It is filled with fluid that helps cushion the baby from bumps and injuries and keeps the baby’s temperature constant.
Sacred Birth South Africa, a community Facebook page, shared the photo of a baby born with caul to remind people that while it's rare -- fewer than one in 80,000 births -- it's perfectly natural and safe. And contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary that your water bag, a common term that refers to the amniotic sac, breaks before you can deliver your baby.
"Please note that as with many other procedures, [breaking the water bag], too, is totally unnecessary and best left alone. There is absolutely no such thing as 'My water could not break by itself.' It WILL break all by itself when the time is right," read the caption of Sacred Birth South Africa's post.
Shown in the photo above, taken by Oregon-based birth photographer Melissa Cate, is the less common type of born-with-caul births. Here, the amniotic sac drapes over the head and partly down the torso of the child. (Another less common type is where the membrane covers the head and face, held up by being looped around the baby's ears.) Some cultures believe that babies born en caul (also called "caul bearers") bring good luck or are destined for greatness.
"Labor can progress well enough with your water bag intact. If it does not rupture during labor, it will do so during the actual birth itself," Sacred Birth South Africa's post further reads. While it occurs naturally in some births, amniotomy or breaking your water bag is also one of the many labor interventions that are used by healthcare professionals to induce labor.
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Like other interventions, it comes with a risk. The water bag encapsulates the baby, and when it breaks, the infant becomes more exposed to infections. Doctors must also work fast to deliver the baby before your bag dries out. It's the logic behind the popular Filipino saying, "bawal matuyuan ng panubigan."
Remember: When making a birth plan, discuss with your doctor if he can let your water bag break on its own time and as long as it does not pose any complications. Caul births usually happen when the mother is delivering a premature baby via C-section, but it can also occur via natural vaginal birth.