Born with a Caul

 What is a Caul?

A baby is enclosed in a thin membrane called the amniotic membrane while in the womb. During the process of birth generally the pressure of the baby pushing at the membranes while trying to move through the birth canal generally breaks this membranes and the amniotic fluid is released. This is what is called ‘breaking of the waters’. Occasionally this does not happen and the baby emerges with this thin membrane covering its head and face. This covering is called a caul. The baby can be partially or completely covered with the caul. Rarely the caul covers the head and part of the body

How often a baby is born with caul?

Statistically, about one in 1,000 babies is born with a caul. However, in developed nations and with advances in midwifery there are routine interventions during the delivery process, such as artificial rupture of the membranes, this number is a lot lower. A baby who is born with a caul is called caul brearer.

Is the caul harmful?

The caul is not dangerous and can be removed easily by the attending medical personnel, who will make a small opening in the membrane across the baby’s nostrils so he can breathe. It should be peeled back carefully to avoid damage to the skin. It can be rubbed off gently with a paper.

General beliefs about Caul bearers

There are many superstitions involved in relation to babies born with a caul. It was deemed that the baby was born with good luck. Part of the good luck in the times before antibiotics, could be that the baby did not get any infection if it was still covered.

The baby was destined to achieve great things. Buddhists believe that one born with a caul was a future Dalai Lama. Some south east Asian communities believe that babies with caul were rulers in past lives and the sac was parts of their past.

Caul was pressed into a paper and preserved, to be kept for good luck. It was believed to protect the person having this good luck charm from drowning and so was often sold to sailors and fishermen.

Another belief was that the baby would have psychic abilities and they would be able to see the past and the future and as adults separate out dreams from premonitions. This belief is seen in the Icelandic and Scottish myths. While Egyptians believed that the baby would be a mystic.

The only negative belief appears to be from some European countries who believe that the individual born with a caul was a vampire.

All these are only beliefs stemming from myths and legends in most cultures. They rarely have any research substantiation. But surely no harm can come of believing in a caul bearer having good luck.