Two More Weeks?!
Of course it goes without saying—it’s been a long pregnancy. Really long. And, even though you remain totally committed to your precious little soon-to-be-daughter-or-son, if this goes on any longer you may have to kick them out of the house years earlier than planned. Yes—a C-section sounds better all the time.
Not so fast…
A recent study reveals that timing is critical in opting for a C-section delivery. Choosing to deliver your baby even a few days early can cause significant respiratory problems and other health issues.
"The cesarean rate in the United States has risen dramatically, from 20.7 percent in 1996 to 31.1 percent in 2006,” said lead researcher Alan T.N. Tita, M.D., Ph.D. “A major reason is the decline in attempted vaginal births after cesarean. Because elective cesareans can be scheduled to accommodate patient and physician convenience, there is a risk that they may be performed earlier than is appropriate. We knew from previous small studies that infants born before 39 weeks gestation are at increased risk for respiratory distress. Because nearly 40 percent of the cesareans performed in the United States each year are repeat procedures, we undertook this large study to describe the timing of elective repeat cesareans and assess its relationship with the risk of various adverse neonatal outcomes."
The 39 week threshhold appears to be the critical factor. Though many physicians consider full gestation to be 37 weeks, those babies delivered at 37 weeks were twice as likely to suffer from complications as infants delivered at 39 weeks. Babies delivered at 38 weeks were still one and one-half times more vulnerable.
So, though it grows more painful to do so with each passing day, take a deep breath. Don’t beg your doctor for a C-section at 12:01 a.m. on the first day of week 37. After all, when the time really does come to "gently encourage" your now fully grown child out the door and into the pathways of real life, you’ll want to have the assurance they’re starting off in vigorous health.
To read more about the study, and to see an interview with Dr, Tita, see this from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. To learn more about having a healthy pregnancy, see this from the American Pregnancy Association.