Q+A: Could a C-Section Cause Respiratory Problems for Baby?

What you need to know about baby's respiratory risks after a planned c-section.

Q. I plan to have a c-section, but I've heard it could cause respiratory problems for my baby. Is this true?

    A. Scheduled too early, a c-section can make breathing difficult for your baby at birth -- one reason doctors recommend you have an elective c-section no earlier than 39 weeks, or one week before your due date. Indeed, a new Danish study of 34,000 births found no difference in the risk of respiratory problems in babies born at 40 weeks via c-section versus those delivered vaginally. But at 37 to 39 weeks, babies had two to four times the risk of respiratory complication when delivered by elective c-section compared with those delivered vaginally or by emergency c-section. The labor process releases hormones that likely help baby cope with lung fluid so she can breathe easier; during most emergency c-sections, labor has already begun. "At 39 weeks, the vast majority of babies will do okay," assures California ob-gyn Bruce Flamm, MD.

      Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the May 2008 issue of American Baby magazine.

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