Getting things done early is generally a good thing, but not when it comes to having a baby. Early elective delivery, which is a birth that is scheduled by choice before the 39th week of pregnancy without a medical reason or need, can be a problem for child and mother and is one time when waiting is the right choice.
Certainly there are numerous circumstances where it is medically necessary to deliver a baby before its due date. However, scheduling a delivery before 39 weeks for convenience should be avoided whenever possible. Early births don’t allow your baby to fully develop and can increase the risk of serious health issues.
Additionally, nearly one-third of all babies in the U.S. are born via C-section, and this is above what most experts consider medically necessary. A C-section is when doctors cut through the abdominal wall muscle and the uterus to deliver a baby. When medically necessary, a C-section can help save the life of mother and/or baby during a complicated birth. However, if not medically necessary, a C-section can put mother and baby at unnecessary risk.
Early elective delivery and potentially unnecessary C-section are two issues that parents-to-be need to know about.
What can patients do?
Sometimes births are scheduled by parents or doctors a little early for non-medical reasons. Staying pregnant for at least 39 weeks increases the likelihood the baby will be born healthy and fully developed. And, all too often, C-sections are used to deliver a baby when not medically necessary.
- Learn the risks of early elective deliveries and unnecessary C-sections, for both mom and baby.
- Ask your doctor why they are recommending an option.
- Create a flexible birth plan and discuss it with your doctor or midwife before you go into labor.
- Learn about birth by taking birth classes, reading books, and asking lots of questions.
- Ask your doctor or hospital about how often they perform C-sections, and look up their rate of early elective deliveries.
What should your doctor do?
You should expect your doctor to tell you the risks of an early elective delivery or C-section. These can affect you and your baby’s current health and future pregnancies.
- Your doctor should also show you courtesy and respect when you share your birth plan.
- If your doctor recommends an early elective delivery or C-section, they should tell you why they are recommending it and your options for inducing labor.