Can You Have C Section at 37 Weeks?

Your doctor may recommend a C-section or cesarean section when you cannot deliver your baby vaginally. The procedure involves making an incision in your abdomen and uterus to deliver the baby. Sometimes, your doctor decides to perform a C-section in the last minute, but in other occasions, they schedule it in advance.

Is It Too Early to Have C Section at 37 Weeks?

In most cases, it is not a good idea to undergo a C-section when you are 37 weeks pregnant. If you and your baby are healthy, it is always better to opt for vaginal delivery. Even in case of certain complications, it is better to wait until at least 39 weeks of pregnancy. There are many reasons why you should wait until 39th week. For instance:

  • Your baby's important organs, like lungs, brain, and liver will need this much of time to develop completely.
  • Your baby is less likely to have hearing and vision problems when delivered after 39th week.
  • Your baby is less likely to be too small when delivered after 39th week.
  • Your baby is more likely to suck and stay awake to eat after birth if delivered after 39th week. Early delivery can sometimes make it difficult for babies to do these things.

When Do You Need a C-Section?

In case of any problems with your baby's health, your doctor may recommend a C section at 37 weeks. They will try whatever they can to delay it until your 39th week of pregnancy. Still, they opt for cesarean sections in case they believe there will be complications during labor. You might need an unplanned cesarean section due to the following reasons:

  • Labor is hard or stops completely.
  • Your baby shows signs of distress, such as slow or very fast heart rate.
  • You have a prolapsed umbilical cord – it is a medical emergency and requires immediate delivery or else there may be no oxygen supply available for your baby.
  • You experience placental abruption – your placenta separates from the uterine wall and compromises the supply of oxygen to your baby.
  • You cannot deliver your baby vaginally because of his/her big size.

Your doctor will schedule a C-section ahead of time if they find an issue during your regular checkups. You may have a planned C-section due to the following reasons:

  • Your baby is not in a head-down position.
  • You have heart disease or other problems that could get worse by the pain and stress of labor.
  • You have a vaginal infection that could affect your baby if delivered vaginally.
  • You are carrying twins.

Possible Risks of a C-Section

As mentioned already, it is better to not go for a C section at 37 weeks, but even when you opt for the procedure after 39th week, you may still end up dealing with certain complications. For starters, you will need more time to recover from a C-section than you do to recover from a vaginal birth.

C-sections carry certain risks for both you and your baby.

  • Your baby is at an increased risk of developing transient tachypnea when they are delivered through cesarean sections. Transient tachypnea is a breathing problem characterized by abnormally fast breathing that may last for a few days after birth.
  • The risk of breathing problems increases further if you have your baby delivered before 39 weeks of pregnancy. That is why it is important to wait for long enough before C-sections and ensure that your baby's lungs have matured already.
  • Moreover, your baby may get accidental nicks during a cesarean section – it is quite rare but possible.

Similarly, a C section at 37 weeks or any other time can also expose you to certain risks. For instance:

  • Inflammation of the uterine lining: You may develop a condition called endometritis, which leads to the inflammation of the membrane lining of your uterus. You may also notice foul-smelling vaginal discharge, fever, and uterine pain.
  • Loss of Blood: While some bleeding is normal, you may still lose a lot more blood with a C-section as compared to a vaginal birth. Still, you rarely need blood transfusions.
  • Reactions to Anesthesia: It is possible to develop an adverse reaction to anesthesia. Your doctor may opt for combined epidural-spinal anesthesia or spinal block anesthesia during a C-section, but this may lead to the development of a severe headache after delivery. Anesthesia can also affect your baby and make them sluggish and inactive after birth.
  • Blood Clots: Although you can develop blood clots in your legs and pelvic organs after a vaginal delivery, the risk of having this issue is much greater in case of a C-section. You may experience life-threatening consequences if a blood clot moves from your legs and travels to your lungs.
  • Wound Infection: You are at a greater risk of developing infections with C-sections than with vaginal deliveries. You are likely to develop an infection within the uterus or around the incision site.
  • Surgical Injury: While the risk is quite low, it is still possible to sustain an injury to nearby organs, such as the bladder during your cesarean section. You may experience surgical injuries when you have multiple C-sections. You need additional surgery if you get a surgical injury during your cesarean section.

Besides experiencing these complications, you will also be at an increased risk of developing complications in a subsequent pregnancy if you decide to deliver through a C-section. There are higher chances of developing problems with the placenta in your subsequent pregnancy. It is always a risk to have uterine rupture, even if you opt for vaginal birth after C-section.

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