Early C-section increases risks for babies

Seeking to address an alarming trend, UnitedHealthcare would like you to know about a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.  The study found that more than a third of all repeat Cesarean deliveries (c-sections) are done too early– before 39 weeks.   This puts the baby at increased risk for a host of complications including breathing problems and infections.

The study of 13,258 births found that the risk of complications doubled if an elective c-section was performed at 37 weeks, instead of at 39 weeks, when the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) regards the operation as safe.

At 38 weeks, the risk of complications was 50 percent higher, the researchers reported.
"Even those deliveries done about three days prior to 39 weeks still have an increase in these adverse outcomes," said Dr. Alan Tita of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who led the study.

Why are so many infants being delivered early?
According to the researchers, the main reason a woman schedules an early c-section is to make sure her own doctor is available, avoiding the possibility of an unfamiliar doctor delivering their baby at the unpredictable time when labor begins.  Whether this is true for you or not, research demonstrates the importance of ensuring that babies are delivered when they are fully developed.

What can you do?
Work with your physician to ensure that, unless there is a medical indication to the contrary your baby is delivered at 39 weeks, whether by c-section or vaginally, so that you can make sure your baby is fully developed prior to being born.

If knowing who will deliver your baby is a concern, try to meet all the physicians who could potentially deliver your baby.  Many obstetrical practices make a point to introduce their patients to all of the doctors in the practice, so that patients are comfortable with whoever may be on call when their patients go into labor.

Be a proactive participant in your birth plan, be sure to document your wishes and keep them on file at your doctor’s office.

To get more information on delivering a healthy, full-term baby, click here.
To read the full study, click here.