Born En Caul – Pure Bliss!

After completing a Chill Mama Active & Mindful Birth Workshop, I am always on a fine balance between extreme high and complete exhaustion, this comes after the nervousness I experience prior to the beginning of the workshop.  Nervousness when I teach is unusual for me now, after all, I’ve been teaching in various settings from Post-Graduate University lectures to yoga classes and everything in between for over 10 years.  Upon reflection, I think the nervousness comes because the transfer of the knowledge within the workshop means so much to me.  Empowering women by teaching them about the process of birth and the various methods to work with and support the process (such as engaging the parasympathetic nervous system through breath work, mindfulness methods and movement (yoga); active birth positions and rebozo) and watching women leave the workshop with a sense of “oh, I feel a whole lot more calm about this now” is integral to the purpose of Chill Mama Wellness and more directly, linked to my purpose here in this lifetime.

Participants enjoying a cuppa and a chuckle at the Chill Mama Active & Mindful Birth Workhop in Albury.

So as I found myself on an “exhausted natural high”, I get the most fabulous message from a client who attended a Chill Mama Active & Mindful Birth Workshop a couple of months ago that read something like this (amended for privacy and shared with permission):

Our baby arrived this morning at 6.17am, 47 minutes after arriving at the hospital.  I birthed him standing at the edge of the bed and he was en caul, no tears, nothing, just pure bliss!!  I’m still in shock.  The sac of fluid he was in was absolutely, positively awesome – he lifted his hand over his face and up above his head and it just steered off in a splash.  Two seconds later and with a squeal of shock my placenta landed on my feet.  Amy, it was AWESOME!  Prior to the birth I walked into the hospital and up the stairs thinking yes, keep moving, keep up-right in case he’s posterior – I had nowhere near the pain of my first labour, so it worked a bloody treat!  Thank you for your class, it complimented the CalmBirth breathing mindset perfectly.

So, you may be asking yourself, what the heck does born en caul actually mean?  Well, it means that baby is born still fully contained within the amniotic sac.  It doesn’t happen very often (approximately 1 in 80,000 births according to some sources) and is more likely to occur in labours where there has been no intervention or vaginal examinations which can increase the chance of the membranes rupturing (waters breaking).  Once baby is born, we can assist the membranes to rupture (or as in this case, the baby did it himself) and once baby’s face and is exposed to the air, the drive to breathe is initiated. In this video you can see the baby still intact within the membranes blissfully unaware it has been born (via caesarean section).  If you’re still intrigued, there are some more pics of babies born en caul in this article.

The story goes, back in the days of pirates and sailors heading off to conquer foreign lands, due to the rare occurrence of en caul births, midwives would save the membranes from babies who were born en caul, dry them and sell them to sailors as a lucky charm against drowning at sea.  I’m not sure if this Chill Mama kept the membranes for any such trade, but one can not dispute the incredible joy and power of this rare, blissful, positive birth.


©Written by Amy Vaccaro, for Chill Mama Wellness, 30th July, 2018.

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