In the Caul

The lovely Valerie, of Atlantamomofthree, and I have decided to collaborate on the ways of being born as it pertains to the amniotic sac. There is an abundance of information on this subject. After reading her post: Natural Childbirth: Not Just for Homebirthers, I asked if she would like to work together on a piece about being born “in the caul.” Turned out, she was going to ask me the same thing…great minds really do think alike! 😉 I hope you enjoy and hopefully, learn something new. Make sure to check out her latest post!

My daughter was born one week early because I was given the label “high risk”, which was removed after the birth of my son and after an ultrasound where she did not move for an hour, which I attributed to her napping and still believe that was the case, the doctor sent me to the hospital to be induced. Her birth was a beautiful and meditative induction but otherwise, natural and drug-free labor and delivery.

I had my eyes closed for the majority of my active labor to maintain my meditative state and kept them closed even as she emerged into the world. My husband, however, was wide-eyed with wonder watching her entrance. He later told me that her birth was different than what he expected because she had a purple-ish sac around her. It scared him for a moment until the doctor unveiled her and she harmoniously sang out to us and the world that she had arrived.

I was not concerned that my daughter was born in the sac because I only cared that she was healthy and figured it must be a normal occurrence, especially being induced one week early. It was not until I was pregnant with my son and in a pre-natal yoga class that I learned that my daughter was born “in the caul” and that there is much mysticism and history surrounding this type of birth.

I learned that the caul is part of the inner membrane of the amnion that sometimes covers the head, head and shoulders or entire body of a child at birth. The outer membrane is connected to the placenta. The “en-caul” birth, not to be confused with the “caul” birth, occurs when the infant is born inside the entire amniotic sac. In this way, the sac balloons out at birth, with the amniotic fluid and child remaining inside the unbroken or partially broken membrane. “En-caul” births are more common than other caul births.

There are four ways cauls can appear at birth; it can be just around the head, around the head and torso (often referred to as a “helmet”), around head and face and looped around the ears leading to more complicated removal or in rarer cases it covers the entire body resembling a cocoon. Rigby was born with the sac covering her entire body but was not ballooned out as an “en-caul” birth. 1 in 80,000 births are with a caul and this number includes the more common “en-caul” births.

Those born with the caul are referred to as “caulbearers” and are normally noted as possessing gifts of clairvoyance and other “supernatural” abilities. In medieval times the appearance of a caul on a newborn baby was seen as a sign of good luck and that the child was destined for greatness. They used to collect the caul onto a piece of paper and give it to the mother to be kept. According to legend, possessing a baby’s caul would protect a person from drowning; therefore, cauls were a commodity cherished by sailors. One born in the caul was also thought to have the ability to defend and protect fertility and their harvest against evil forces, particularly witches and sorcerers.

It amazes me, in general, the superstitions and mysticisms that developed in medieval times and sometimes even today. While I would love to believe that my daughter has magical abilities to protect our small little garden from evil, I do not think the bugs eating my tomatoes are deterred. However, since she was a young toddler, I have noticed that my daughter seems keenly aware of things going on that she should otherwise not know. She has also made statements and asked questions about big issues such as religion that make me wonder how she could have come up with such ideas on her own. I am sure many parents have instances with their children that cause them to step back and wonder. And I do believe children, in general, have a sixth sense that allows them to connect to a world that adults have closed off from.

Whether or not my daughter’s birth in the caul gave her special abilities, I do believe the birthing experience has a profound impact on mother, father and child and I will always have a fascinating story for her proving how special she is.

*Disclaimer: The author has no medical background or training. The above is based on personal experience and amateur research. Any discrepancies are the fault of the writer and are not meant to advise or otherwise consult on births.

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10 thoughts on “In the Caul

  1. Pingback: Born “In the Caul”: Why They Might Not Need to Break Your Water | Atlantamomofthree

  2. I had no idea! That was all new to me and I had to go back and read it a couple of times and I’m still not sure I get it fully! No clue that was an option that could happen – but it’s pretty cool. And weird. But interesting. And a tad freaky. 🙂 I enjoyed learning this today!

  3. I love this, Kerry! Thanks for doing a team-effort post with me! We’ll have to do it again some time. 😀
    Btw, did your husband get any pics of your daughter that way? I don’t have any pics of me pushing or birthing, but I have some of the babies just after birth (when they were put on my belly).

  4. The human body is an amazing thing from the moment it is created, and then birthed. I had never heard of a caul birth before. That is fascinating. Her insight sounds fascinating as well. Children are amazingly open to the world around them. I love to watch them learn and explore. Sorry about the bugs eating your tomatoes though.

  5. Hi Kerry. Lovely post. It was great to read about your experience as it is so rare. My third was born in the caul, completely covered in the unbroken sac. He was a waterbirth and I don’t think the midwife realised until she had actually brought him to the surface. It was an odd moment for everyone. Unfortunately we didn’t think to get a photo in the heat of the moment. I also agree that some kids seem to have a sixth sense. My eldest had a ‘been here before’ look when he was born and he is wise beyond his years. My ‘caulbearer’ is only 6 months so I have yet to see.

  6. My third was born “in the caul” completely encased. My husband had no clue when he saw her that she was inside it. She should have been a happy relaxed unstressed baby as she surely had experienced less trauma, however she came out kicking and screaming and so she continued for twelve months! My fourth was a home water birth and was so relaxed and quiet that at six weeks I asked to have her checked to see she was okay!

    • Its funny how much they change. As calm and cool as my daughter was at birth and her babyhood, you’d think she’d have stayed that way but she definitely came into her own in a seriously chatty way. And my son who was louder as a baby is pretty chill now as a toddler. Water birth sounds awesome…I kinda wish I had done that the 2nd time around.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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