How Did the ‘Amniotic Sac Baby’ Birth Happen?

amniotic sac baby

By now you’ve probably heard about the newborn boy known as the “amniotic sac baby,” Silas Philips. He was born by C-section three months early, still encased in his amniotic sac.

“En caul” births, as they are called, are extremely rare: fewer than 1 in 80,000 births, according to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. That’s where Silas’ mom Chelsea Philips gave birth; doctors there were blown away by what they were seeing when Silas was born. The clear-colored amniotic sac, a bubble that forms around the fetus shortly after conception and fills with amniotic fluid and urine during the pregnancy, was still intact around him.

“Even though it’s a cliché, we caught our breath,” neonatologist Dr. William Binder told KCAL TV, an affiliate of CNN. “It really felt like a moment of awe.”

So how does an “en caul” birth happen? Normally the amniotic sac ruptures either before or during birth, when a woman’s water breaks or is broken by doctors during labor and delivery and fluid gushes out. But in an en caul birth, which is usually premature, that doesn’t happen and the amniotic sac isn’t punctured before or during delivery.

So as with other babies born en caul, Silas was completely inside the bubble of fluid when doctors took him out of the womb via cesarean. He was curled up in the sac, still getting oxygen from  the umbilical cord with the placenta right next to him.

Mom Philips didn’t know what had happened until several hours afterwards, when her mother showed her the cellphone photo the doctor had taken.

“It was definitely like a clear film, where you could definitely make out his head and his hair,” Philips told the station. “He was kind of in a fetal position, and you could see his arms and his legs curled up. It was actually really cool to see.”

And then she heard what a miracle baby Silas really was.

“When I found out that that’s like really rare, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, Silas, you’re a little special baby,” his mom said. “Since the moment he was born, he’s been a little fighter.”

Just seconds after doctors took in the unbelievable sight, they set to work caring for Silas and helping him breathe on his own. Now, at almost 3 months old, he’s doing great and on track to go home within the next month — right around his due date.


His doctors won’t forget Silas even after he has left the hospital.

“This was really a moment that will stick in my memory for some time,” Binder said.