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C-Sections & Early Deliveries | Risks of C-section and early Delivery
C-Sections & Early Deliveries

  • In 2006, a government panel urged women not to seek a C-section without a medical reason.  Surgery brings risks and babies born by Caesarean have a greater chance for respiratory problems.  Babies born by C-section already have a higher risk of breathing trouble than those born vaginally, because labor helps clear the lungs of fluid.     (Source:  “C-section best for baby closer to due date,” by Stephanie Nano, Associated Press, January 8, 2009; New England Journal of Medicine;  and “C-Section Too Early Risks Baby’s Health,” January 7, 2009 ABC News Report by Audrey Grayson, ABC News Medical Unit)
  • The March of Dimes has issued their findings on the last few weeks of pregnancy.  A lot of brain development happens between 37-39 weeks, and getting to 39 weeks is best for babies.

    A study published in the journal Pediatrics 
    highlights this very issue. A healthy pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. But  researchers found that children born even just a couple of weeks early (weeks 37 and 38) ended up having lower reading and math scores 8 years later than children who were born closer to 40 weeks.  Even though your provider may say you are full term at week 37, those last few weeks leading up to week 40 are still very important. For example, your baby’s brain, lungs and liver are still developing. In fact, a baby’s brain at 35 weeks weighs just 2/3 of what his brain weighs at 39 to 40 weeks. 

    More and more births are being scheduled a little early. 
    Experts are learning that this can cause problems.  If possible, it's best to stay pregnant for at least 39 weeks.  If your pregnany is healthy, wait for labor to begin on its own.  (March of Dimes, 2016)
  • The rate of Caesarean sections in the United States was at an all-time high in 2011, accounting for about 33% of births. ("Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery," American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. March 2014. Retrieved 20 February 2014)

  • C-section babies which are taken more than one week early are 50% more likely to go to the Intensive Care Unit; 70% are more likely to have infections requiring antibiotics; and 200% more likely to develop serious breathing problems which require a ventilator.  The very last weeks of pregnancy are when the baby's lungs and brain are developing rapidly.  Cutting pregnancy short could interfere with that growth. 
    ("Early C-Sections Harmful to Babies," by Lorie Johnson, CBNNews.com, Health & Science, January 27, 2009) 

  • 75% of twin pregnancies in the U.S. were delivered by C-section in 2008.  ("Trends in cesarean delivery for twin births in the United States:  1995-2008" Obstet Gynecol 118(5): 1095-101, Lee HC, Gould JB, Boscardin WJ, El-Sayed YY, Blumenfeld YJ (2011)
What You Can Do
  • Healthy Baby Checklist.  Being healthy before and during pregnancy can help you have a strong, healthy baby.
    • Get a preconception checkup to make sure you are healthy before you get pregnant.
    • Take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.
    • Eat healthy foods and get to a healthy weight.
    • Don't smoke, drink alcohol, or use street drugs.
    • Make sure any medicine you take is safe during pregnancy.  Ask your health care provider about prescription and over-the-counter medicine.  She may want to switch you to medicine that is safe for you and your baby when you get pregnant.
    • Stay away from harmful chemicals, including cigarette smoke.
    • Find ways to reduce your stress.    (March of Dimes, 2016)

  • Preterm Labor.  No one knows for sure what causes a woman to have preterm labor, but there are some things that make early labor more likely.  These are called risk factors. 

    Talk to your health care provider if you have any of these risk factors.  You may be able to reduce your risk and have a better chance for a healthy pregnancy.

    Risk factors for preterm labor include:
    • Having already had a premature baby.
    • Being pregnant with twins triplets or more.
    • Smoking, drinking alcohol, using street drugs, or abusing prescription drugs.
    • Being overweight or not weighing enough. 
    • Having health problems, like high blood pressure or diabetes.
    • Having an infection during pregnancy, like an STI or a kidney infection.
    • Getting pregnant again too soon after having a baby.
    • Having problems with your uterus (womb) or cervix.
    • Having a lot of stress in your life.
    • Having premature birth run in your family.    (March of Dimes, 2016)
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