When can you schedule a cesarean section?

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Question: When can you schedule a cesarean section?

Answer: Once the decision to have a scheduled cesarean section has been made, you might wonder when to schedule a c-section? You will be scheduled  for a cesarean in relationship to your original due date. When scheduling a c-section, the date will depend on why the decision is being made to schedule a c-section.

Scheduling a First or Second C-Section

If you are having your first or your second c-section, you will most likely be scheduled for a c-section around the 39th weeks of gestation.

While some studies have shown that waiting until the 39th weeks can increase the likelihood that you would go into labor and have the cesarean done once in early labor. For most pregnant women this is not a problem, other than one of scheduling.

Some obstetricians prefer that you actually go into early labor before doing your cesarean. This means that as soon as regular contractions begin you will report to the hospital and have a cesarean performed. This allows your baby the longest and best gestation possible.

If it is best to avoid labor or if your practitioner prefers, you will pick a date between when you are 39 weeks pregnant and your due date. Waiting this long helps ensure that your baby is not born so early as to have more breathing problems at birth.

Scheduling a Third or More C-Section

If you have had more than two prior c-sections, your doctor may recommend that you schedule your delivery to be closer to the 38th week of gestation.

There may be other reasons that you may need to schedule a c-section earlier as well.

If you or your baby have specific medical needs that necessitate that your baby be born prior to 39 weeks pregnant it will be scheduled accordingly, perhaps after doing an amniocentesis to check for lung maturity. Be sure to talk to your doctor about why the early birth is needed and what it means to your baby.

More Info:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Patient Safety Checklist no. 3: scheduling planned cesarean delivery. Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Dec;118(6):1469-70. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31823ed20d.

Glavind J, Henriksen TB, Kindberg SF, Uldbjerg N. Do pregnant women prefer timing of elective cesarean section prior to versus after 39 weeks of gestation? Secondary analyses from a randomized controlled trial. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2014 Nov;27(17):1782-6. doi: 10.3109/14767058.2013.879707. Epub 2014 Jan 29.

Glavind J, Henriksen TB, Kindberg SF, Uldbjerg N. Randomized trial of planned caesarean section prior to versus after 39 weeks: unscheduled deliveries and facility logistics--a secondary analysis. PLoS One. 2013 Dec 20;8(12):e84744. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0084744. eCollection 2013.

Resende MC, Santos L, Santos Silva I. Neonatal Morbidity in Term Newborns Born by Elective Cesarean Section. Acta Med Port. 2015 Sep-Oct;28(5):601-7. Epub 2015 Oct 30.

Melamed N, Hadar E, Keidar L, Peled Y, Wiznitzer A, Yogev Y. Timing of planned repeat cesarean delivery after two or more previous cesarean sections--risk for unplanned cesarean delivery and pregnancy outcome. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2014 Mar;27(5):431-8. doi: 10.3109/14767058.2013.818130. Epub 2013 Jul 18.

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