The holidays have arrived. I know it because my iphone told me today. The calendar reminder that helps me remember birthdays and other important stuff today read, “Begin Holiday Preparation.” I love my smart phone. I love planning and organization. I love any amount of control I can have over an otherwise fun-filled, sometimes crazy life. So, when I hear a mom say she wants to schedule the delivery of her baby, I get it. With so many things out of our control, anytime we can exert control it is very tempting.
So, why should a mom endure the serendipitous adventure of labor and delivery when she can schedule a c-section? You know, schedule a C-section and schedule all that goes with it: the start of her time off work, the babysitter for the other kids, the plane flights of parents who live out of town. When you think about it, a scheduled C-section, especially a couple weeks before the due date to prevent an unscheduled, inopportune onset of labor, sounds like a really intelligent decision.
So, why not? Because infants born at 37 weeks are considered premature. They are not as developed at those born at 39 or 40 weeks. The earlier a baby is born, the higher the likelihood he will need to be admitted to intensive care, will have trouble breastfeeding, won’t be well enough to go home when his mom leaves the hospital, will have a lower IQ. Basically, the more likely he will not be as overall healthy as a term infant. We used to think a couple weeks didn’t matter. We used to think, “35, 36, 37 weeks gestation versus term at 40 weeks, no big deal” Now we know, it does matter. In fact, it matters a lot.
What about waiting until term and then having a scheduled C-section? Again, we used to think that was ok. We used to think there wasn’t a difference in the outcome whether the baby was born vaginally or via C-section. Now we know. Babies born via C-section don’t benefit from the biochemical cascade that starts in the mother in response to contractions and cervical change. That biological waterfall results in changes in the baby’s body that make her more prepared for life outside of her mother. We are just beginning to learn of all the good imparted by those changes. We have already learned, babies born via C-section struggle more from a breathing standpoint than babies born via vaginal delivery. We know that some term babies born via C-section will be very sick. Babies that, if born vaginally, would not have been sick.
I had a C-section at 33 weeks gestation. I was pregnant with triplets and my body was decompensating, so it was time for them to come before their lives were at risk. For many very good reasons, yourOBmay deliver your baby early or via C-section. Talk to your doctor about what that list includes. Really talk about it.
When you are very large and very miserable, remind yourself, the “C” in “C-section” doesn’t stand for convenience and convenience shouldn’t be the reason to deliver early or via C-section.