The word ‘caul’ means ‘helmeted head’ or ‘veil’, and is used to refer to the piece of amniotic sack that can occasionally stay attached to a baby’s head upon delivery. In the mediaeval period, being born ‘with the caul’ was seen as an indicator of good luck and a sign that the child was destined for greatness, and it may have also been believed to protect the child from evil. More recently, the caul was preserved (if present) by pressing a piece of paper against the membrane, and saved as an heirloom. It is thought that any birth involving the caul occurs once in every 80,000 births, but in some extremely rare cases, a child may be born ‘en caul’. This is where a baby is delivered entirely encased in the amniotic sack due to the waters not breaking, and the baby acts as though it is still inside the womb, being totally unaware that it has been born.
A case of this occurred during a Caesarian Section recently in Greece, and the obstetrician Dr Aris Tsigris posted this image on Facebook:
Having witnessed birth first-hand, this is an intense, emotional and exquisite moment, and I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to witness this- just to see your child as they are in the womb with your own eyes and without the aid of a camera or scan must be utterly breathtaking. I’m sure that for one parent, this is a moment that will stay with them forever and a day. It will definitely stay with me.