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Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital

Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital
Affiliated with Levine Children's Hospital
920 Church Street N
Concord, NC 28025
(800) 575-1275


Can I Request to Have a C-Section?

I'm 37 weeks pregnant and I'm just not sure I can wait for nature to take its course. Can I ask my doctor if I can schedule a C-section?
Becky

It can be frustrating to wait until your due date to meet your baby. But Cesarean sections (or C-sections) usually are scheduled for women such as those:

  • who have a high-risk pregnancy (for example, they're expecting multiples or have a medical condition that would make a vaginal delivery too risky)
  • who've had previous C-sections (although many women can safely deliver vaginally after a C-section) or other uterine surgeries
  • who have problems with the placenta, such as placenta previa (when the placenta sits too low in the uterus and covers the cervix)
  • whose babies have some types of birth defects
  • whose babies are in the wrong position (sideways or breech)

It may be tempting to try to schedule your baby's "birth day" and avoid the uncertainty and pain of labor. But a C-section is a major surgery and, like any surgery, does come with risks. These include:

  • bleeding
  • infection
  • bladder or bowel injury
  • reactions to medicines
  • blood clots
  • problems with the placenta in future pregnancies

Another potential risk of having a scheduled C-section that is not medically necessary is giving birth to a late pre-term baby (born between 34 and 36 weeks). Why? Because the due date (also called the expected delivery date, or EDD) may be wrong. Your due date is 40 weeks from the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). If you deliver on your due date, your baby is actually only about 38 weeks old — that's because your egg didn't become fertilized until about 2 weeks after the start of your last menstrual period.

Women who have irregular periods or first-trimester bleeding might be mistaken about when their last menstrual period was. An ultrasound can help to narrow it down, but the estimated date of conception could still be off by a couple of weeks.

Babies born late pre-term are generally healthy but may have temporary problems such as jaundice, trouble feeding, problems with breathing, or trouble keeping an even body temperature.

You might be impatient to meet your little one, but vaginal delivery usually carries fewer risks than a C-section. Plus, you can come home sooner and recover quicker with a vaginal delivery.

If you're interested in having a C-section instead of a vaginal birth, talk about the risks and benefits of both options with your doctor.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: January 2021