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The Little Mermaid Trailer Made Me Ask: What Is A Mermaid Birth? Here’s what I Found

A mermaid birth is also called an en caul birth. It happens when a baby is delivered still inside an unbroken amniotic (water) sac. A vaginal mermaid delivery occurs spontaneously and is a rare occurrence.

by Shayla Brown

The Little Mermaid Trailer

How Common Is Mermaid Birth?

Mermaid birth is very rare. Some estimates suggest that en caul births would be 1% to 2% of all vaginal births if physicians stopped intervening with artificial rupture of membranes (AROM). This still amounts to less than one in 80,000 births.1

What Happens in a Mermaid Birth?

During a mermaid birth, the baby remains inside the amniotic sac during labor and delivery. Vaginal mermaid births are the rarest form. Cesarean mermaid deliveries are done intentionally by doctors using surgical techniques.

Is a Mermaid Birth the Same as Veiled Birth?

A mermaid birth is not the same as a veiled birth. In a veiled birth, a baby is born with part of the amniotic sac or membrane covering the head or face. This can give the appearance of a veil. The doctor or midwife can remove this. A veil birth is not as rare as a mermaid birth.

What Usually Happens to the Amniotic Sac During Labor?

Usually, the amniotic sac ruptures, or breaks, during labor or within 24 hours of labor beginning. This is often called “water breaking.” This can happen spontaneously—known as spontaneous rupture of the membranes (SROM)—and sometimes signals the start of labor. It can also happen during active labor or during the pushing phase.

If a doctor or midwife breaks the amniotic sac to speed up or start labor it is called an artificial rupture of the membranes (AROM).

Benefits of Mermaid Birth

In some cases, mermaid birth provides protection for a baby considered high risk.

The amniotic sac can be a buffer for an unborn baby and protect it from uterine squeezing and bruising during contractions. Keeping the amniotic sac intact also makes it easier for the mother or the physician to alter the baby’s positioning if necessary so that labor can continue smoothly.

Other benefits include protection from a cord prolapse—when the umbilical cord slips into the cervix in front of (or below) the baby and can then be squeezed by the baby. This is considered an emergency situation for a baby.3


Mermaid birth, or en caul birth, occurs when a fetus is delivered still inside an intact amniotic sac.

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