Baby's dramatic birth is so rare you may not have heard of it

Apr 18, 2016 at 7:30 a.m. ET
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As if being born in a car park wasn’t dramatic enough, little Kalani Sing was born in a very rare way. He entered the world still inside his amniotic sac — known as the "caul" — which is believed by many to be extremely lucky.

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Kalani’s parents made it as far as the Gosford Hospital car park last week but didn’t have time to go any further, and mum Ashley Johnson, 26, gave birth to her baby boy in the front passenger seat of partner Matthew Sing’s car only seconds after he pulled up outside the hospital’s emergency entrance.

"I ran into emergency and shouted 'help, my partner’s having a baby,'" Sing told the Central Coast Gosford Express Advocate. "I came back out with a wheelchair for Ashley and saw the baby’s head coming out. I ran over and grabbed the head and within minutes he was out. A couple standing nearby raced over and passed me a dress to catch the baby. I could see the waters hadn’t broken and he had a film over his head, so I turned him over and got it off. He coughed and cried and I put him on Ashley’s chest."

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Within days of a woman conceiving, the amniotic sac begins to form and fill with fluid. Until about week 10 of the pregnancy, the fluid mainly consists of water, but after this stage the baby passes small amounts of urine into the fluid. The fluid increases gradually during pregnancy until around week 38, when it reduces slightly until the birth.

The fluid helps protect the baby from injury and provides it with fluids to help it breathe and swallow. In most pregnancies, the amniotic sac breaks on its own during labour — commonly referred to as the mother's "water breaking." In a C-section, the doctor cuts through the sac to deliver the baby.

However, in around one in every 80,000 births, the baby is born "en caul." Also known as a "veiled birth," it is most common in premature babies.

Being born with the caul was considered a sign of good luck in medieval times, and an indication that the child — known as the "caulbearer" — was destined for great things. An important tradition was to preserve the caul. The midwife would rub a sheet of paper across the baby's head and face to press the caul onto the paper, then present this to the mother to keep as an heirloom.

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