Warning: some of the images below may be disturbing to some readers
A Chinese hospital was able to capture the moment a baby boy was brought into the world still inside an intact amniotic sac. The procedure is rarely performed, but the hospital insisted it needed to be done to protect the premature baby. With their success, they plan on delivering more babies this way.
An amniotic sac is the bag of fluid inside the mom’s uterus where the baby develops. The fluid inside protects the baby from injury and helps regulate the temperature inside the womb. The liquid inside is also essential to the development of the baby’s lungs, digestive system, muscles, and bones. During labour, the sac breaks and the fluid drains out—this is the moment when a woman’s “waters” breaks.
The procedure, called an en caul delivery, was done at the Fujian Maternity and Child Health Care Hospital in Fuzhou, eastern China. The baby was born back in July, but footage of his birth has only recently been released. Dr. Pan Mian, the obstetrician who delivered the baby, believed the procedure was necessary because the mother was suffering from pain and vaginal bleeding. The baby also needed to be delivered ASAP because he had a velamentous cord insertion—his umbilical cord travels through the whole membrane instead of being attached directly to the placenta.
They performed an emergency en caul delivery via C-section. The baby was removed from his mom’s womb while still inside an intact amniotic sac. The doctors broke open the membrane and cleared the fluid from his lungs. After two minutes of not breathing, he finally began to cry—signalling a successful operation.
Dr. Pan chose to do the procedure because doctors wanted to minimize the chances of the infant dying. Removing him from the womb en caul gave him an extra layer of protection. It reduced moisture oss of the skin, decreased chances of rapid temperature loss, and protected the baby from injuries during a C-section procedure. While the practice is uncommon and quite strange, if it’s proven to decrease chances of infant mortality, then more babies ought to be born in a sack.