When scheduling a C-Section your doctor will often calculate your due date and schedule your C-Section about a week prior to that date, which should be at or around 39 weeks.
But for many moms, scheduling your C-Section may not be that simple. You may have a preference for a date, or there may be other scheduling or health issues that need consideration. All these things will depend on your individual birth requirements, your health and discussions you’ve had with your doctor.
When To Schedule A C-Section
Since most C-Section scheduling revolves around your due date, you’ll need to first calculate your due date. Human gestation is 266 days or 40 weeks. But notice that 40 weeks is actually 280 days. Here’s where the difference comes in. When we speak of 40 weeks the count starts at the first day of your last period. That adds 10-15 days to the gestation time which accounts for the additional 14 days or so.
So if you’re calculating your due date in weeks, 40 weeks gestation is considered just about right, but many doctors also consider anything after 38 weeks as being term, so a safe C-Section schedule date would be anything from 38-40 weeks. The closer to 40 weeks, the better.
Delivering before 37 weeks is not recommended. Your baby needs that time for full lung and organ development as infant respiratory distress syndrome can be an issue. So scheduling a C-Section should never be before 37 weeks if that’s possible.
Schedule a C-Section or Wait To Go Into Labor First?
If this is your second or subsequent C-Section, labor is generally not recommended. If you should go into labor before your scheduled date, your doctor will want you to come in right away to have your surgery. The reason for this is if you’ve had a prior cesarean section, going into labor with your second carries an increased risk of uterine rupture.
If this will be your first C-section and there’s no medical reason to avoid labor, then going into labor is actually good for your baby. There are stress hormones that get released during labor that help with a baby’s lung maturation. Avoiding labor prevents baby from getting the benefit of these hormones.
Scheduling before 38 weeks
Studies have found that babies delivered before the 39th week of pregnancy were more likely to have breathing problems, low blood sugar and infections. To back this up, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) does not recommend scheduling your C-section more than a week before your due date.
This is particularly important for women who schedule a Cesarean in order to ensure their baby is born on a specific date. If this date is to0 early, you put your baby’s health at risk.
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