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Planning a C-section? It may pay to wait.

Saturday, February 21st, 2009 by:

I wish this had been published before I scheduled my C-section at 38 weeks. Although the outcome may not have been any different (my son was in NICU for 11 days for respiratory distress), there’s a chance that waiting an extra week to deliver could have nixed my baby’s NICU stay.

Thirty-seven weeks is considered a full-term pregnancy. But if you need to schedule a planned cesearean section delivery, new information has found it’s best to way until your baby is at least 39 gestational weeks of age.

A study published in the The New England Journal of Medicine tracked almost 25,000 repeat and singleton C-sections. Compared to births at 39 weeks, births at 37 and 38 weeks were associated with an increased risk of adverse respiratory outcomes, mechanical ventilation, newborn sepsis, hypoglycemia, and admission to the neonatal unit. Your risk increased by a factor of 1.8 to 4.2 for births at 37 weeks and 1.3 to 2.1 for births at 38 weeks.

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6 Responses to “Planning a C-section? It may pay to wait.”

  1. Celebrity Baby Blog - People.com » Blog Archive Around the Web… « Says:

    […] may be smart to wait when you’re planning a C-section — Just the Facts, […]

  2. Alyson Says:

    My son was born at 38 via planned repeat c-section and suffered from PPHN and RDS and was in the NICU for 17 days!!! It was such a devastating time for my family. I may not of lost him physically…THANK GOD, but I lost those first few moments and days with him, breast feeding him immediately (Instead I had to have those moments at first with a breast pump!!)…….I couldn’t even hold him till he was 6 days old :0( … He had to be transferred from one hospital to another just 36 hours after her was born……I didn’t get to leave the hospital with him in my arms…….I left empty handed…..If I had to do it over again I would’ve waited an extra week……..I am happy to say that my son is very healthy and is 9 months old and 16 pounds………I thank God every day that he is in our lives!!

  3. Nancy Ripton Says:

    Thanks so much for your response Alyson. No one can imagine how challenging it is to have a child in the NICU and to turn what should be some of the best days of your life into some of the most painful.

  4. Elizabeth Says:

    Yes, it’s better to wait as long a you can. Studies have shown that a c-section baby born before the 39th week of pregnancy is at greater risk for mild to serious lung and breathing problems. Having a c-section alone presents the likelihood of respiratory problems for baby but the risk increases with planned c-sections before the 39th week.

  5. Barbara Says:

    I just read your article in a family magazine regarding your sons birth and I wanted to come on here and thank you for sharing your story. The exact same thing happened to me, Im starting to realize that it is happening more and more times than i thought. My son was born at 38 weeks and 4 days via planned C-Section. The Doctors assured me that he was absolutely ready. No-one told me there was a risk he would not be ready. He was born and right off the bat he couldn’t breath properly. He was taken to to nursery and within 24 hours his lungs came close to failing. In the middle of the night, a Doctor came to my room and advised my husband and I that my son had to be ventilated and transfered to another hospital (perhaps Victoria or even Seattle!) right away. they waited until he got worse and worse till one Dr finally intervened as his lungs started to fail. At first they said infection? wet lung? They pumped him full of antibiotics and gosh knows what else. Well, the ambulance came and ventilated him and took him to BC Children’s Neonatal ICU. When they brought him to my room before they took him, my heart sank, with joy because every breath was no longer a struggle for him and with sorrow as he was heavily sedated and being taken away. I immediately checked myself out of the hospital, despite having a cesarian 24 hours prior. The staff of BC Children’s Neonatal ICU were wonderful, professional and compassionate. He started getting better as soon as he got there and after 5 days was taken off the ventilator and put on C-PaP, which also meant i got to hold him for the first time since he was born. They said he was surfactant deficient at birth. The first time I held him, he fell into a sleep so deep and peaceful, a sleep he had not had since being born (despite the morphine). the change was obvious! He woke up from that first peaceful sleep and looked me right in the eyes and for the first time was actually alert, absolutely amazing! My son is now just turned 2, and yes it has been a roller-coaster. He did have a wheeze for about a year and when he got a respiratory cold, we had to give him medicine in a nebulizer. He now does not get as sick, but like you, I often (and still do) wonder what kind of damage was done because I did not hold my son until he was 5 days old. He was an extremely needy baby, cried all the time and constantly needed to be held. Was it because of what happened when he was born? Hard to say… but I wonder. I am now pregnant with my 3rd child and will again be having a cesarian. I told my Doctor the first visit that they WILL NOT schedule another planned birth. I will go into labour as that is the only sure thing (and a chemical is released to signal baby’s lungs to start expelling the fluid) to tell that my baby is ready. then they can do the cesarian. Yes, it may not fit into their schedule, but I don’t care, my baby’s health is at risk here. No-one told me last time, this may happen. So thank you for sharing you story, it inspired me to share mine as well. I hope we as a society and moms alike can spread the word and take control of when our baby’s are born!!!! So wish me well, this births going to be different! Remember ladies, you have a choice! Don’t let the Dr.’s tell you that your baby is ready before its time (unless it is medically necessary of course!) Thanks for reading, and pass onto any women you know having a scheduled cesarian!

  6. Nancy Ripton Says:

    I think it’s great that you’ve decided to wait to go into labor with your third Barbara. I plan on doing the same if I have a third (and wish I have with my second).

    Thank goodness for modern medicine and that both of our children are now healthy.