What happens if your doctor schedules a c-section at 37 or 38 weeks? Sounds convenient, right? And safe. After-all, full term is anywhere between 37 weeks and 42 weeks, why not deliver on the earlier side of that window?
This video, produced by the Perinatal Quality Collaborative of North Carolina (PQCNC), was posted one of my very favorite birth advocacy blogs this morning and I really wanted to run it here as this message could not be more important. It’s the story of a woman who nearly lost her baby due to a c-section done before 39 weeks. There’s so much we can learn from this woman’s story, which is actually not that uncommon:
What can we learn from this?
* Inductions and c-sections before 39 weeks have risks and should be done only when medically necessary. A lot happens in the final weeks of fetal development. Let the baby decide when to be born.
* Doctors should INFORM their patients about the benefits, risks and alternatives to all procedures, especially major surgery. (Not only could surgery have been delayed for this mom, she could have been offered the option of going into labor spontaneously and trying for a VBAC.)
* Patients should always feel free to ask about the benefits, risks and alternatives to any procedure or surgery and actively participate in their care. This is your body and you are paying this care-provider. Ask questions. (A good doctor will give you a thorough answer and include you in the decisions.)
There are several passionate campaigns (like “I Want My 40 Weeks Back” from the March of Dimes) to stop unnecessarily early inductions and c-sections, yet you hear stories like the one in this video too often.
The really good news is that the PQCNC has done amazing work in North Carolina. Hospitals participating in their initiatives have reduced elective delivers before 39 weeks by 43%. PQCNC just announced that Blue Cross Blue Shield and North Carolina’s Office of Rural Health and Community Care have agreed to a million dollars in funding for phase two of their initiatives. Phase Two goals include reducing elective c-sections in first time moms by 25%, and increasing exclusive breastfeeding in the NICUs by 50%.
Bravo! This needs to happen everywhere. In the meantime, educate yourself, ask your doctor questions NOW about his or her c-section rate and induction rate. And find out what your choices are when it comes to childbirth.
Thank you to theunnecesarean.com for bringing this amazing video and important story to my attention.