A video floating around the internet and on Facebook has been seen over 20 million times — and for good reason: a woman’s water broke outside her womb. In a rare labor and delivery, Silas Philips was born “en-caul,” which means the infant took his first birth after doctors freed it from it’s mother’s amniotic sac outside of her body, according to an IFLScience report.
Last year, Chelsea Philips, the child’s mom, checked into Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Doctors were to do a Caesarean section (or C-section).
There was an inherent risk because the child would be born premature at only 26 weeks. However, the expecting mom was in good hands with capable doctors to deliver her baby. Little did she or anyone else know, the baby would be born in a special way.
Normally, right after conception, an amniotic sac forms around the fertilized egg. According to NLM (MedlinePlus), the “fluid is a clear, slightly yellowish liquid that surrounds the unborn baby (fetus) during pregnancy. It is contained in the amniotic sac.”
— Parents Magazine (@parentsmagazine) February 26, 2016
The protective bubble gives the growing baby room to move around. It offers a safe-growing environment from bumps and rapid movement, allows the baby’s bones to develop normally, and protects the lungs while they develop for use outside the womb.
In uncomplicated pregnancies, the membranous fluid stays within the sac until a woman goes into labor and the baby starts its way down the birth canal. It’s the classic “water breaking” or “Honey, it’s time; I think my water broke” scenarios.
However, baby Silas had other plans. When doctors removed his tiny frame from his mommy’s womb, he was still inside the sac and appeared as if he were still asleep. Doctors used a scalpel to cut the sac. However, what should have occurred on the inside happened outside — and the birth was caught on tape. Daily Mail described the scene inside the hospital room.
“The doctor is then passed a pair of surgical scissors and makes the tiniest incision into the protective layer. The baby quickly spills out of the sac, which tears like cling film as he opens it with his fingers.
“He then gently clears the baby’s airways with his gloved finger. The extraordinary baby lets out its first cry as it is caught by medical staff who [sic] unwrap the umbilical cord from around its waist.
“It finishes with the newborn letting out little coughs as the doctor turns them on to its front and helps him breathe.”
At times, babies are born when the sac gets trapped around the child’s head, which makes them look like they have a bubble helmet. In fact, the term is derived from the Latin word, “caul,” or “helmet.” This type of birth is rare enough, according to sources, but delivering a child still fully enclosed in the sac is even rarer: only 1 in 80,000 births happen en-caul.
— OPD News Feed (@OPDNewsFeed) February 25, 2015
Neonatologist William Binder said he and hospital staff were shocked, which underscores the rarity of the moment. To put it in perspective, some doctors go through their whole careers without bearing witness to this miracle of birth.
The new mommy spoke to reporters about the precious moment. She described how astonished she was about what had taken place.
“It was definitely like a clear film, where you could definitely make out his head and his hair. I was like, oh my gosh, Silas, you’re a little special baby.”
Although the en-caul baby was born premature, he and his mother seem to be doing well. And thanks to the power of social media, the world got a glimpse of the miracle of life — albeit in a peculiar way.
[Image Courtesy Facebook/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center]