Advice for Scheduled C-section

Updated on February 24, 2011
M.S. asks from Troutdale, OR
28 answers

I had my first daughter in October 2009 and am due with our second child in 10 weeks. The doctor has scheduled a c-section for me at the end of April about a week before my due date. I had to have a c-section with the first one because she would not engage in the birth canal and was in distress. After she was born the doctor (not my dr but the one on call because it was a weekend) who delivered her said that there was no way she could have passed on her own. I was just too small. She only weighed 8 pounds so its not like she was a big baby. Anyway, my husband thinks that I should just wait until I go into labor on my own and then go to the hospital. He thinks the extra week in utero is that important. I have my doubts if I will even last until the scheduled date because the first one came almost 14 days early. What do you other moms think? have you been through this? Is it better to wait for nature to happen or should we go ahead with the scheduled date? I know I feel more comfortable with having it planned, but he is really concerned for the baby. I would love some opinions or personal experiences with this. Also, I have been thinking that the only upside to recovering from another c-section is that I don't have to go through labor again.

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So What Happened?

I went ahead with the scheduled c-section like the doctor wanted, and I have to say that the recovery was so much better this time because I didn't have to go through labor first. Our little boy was not quite so little, at 10 lbs 1 oz so he would not have been able to be born with a vbac anyway, so I'm really glad that I went with the c-section. We are all healthy and happy. Thanks to all of you who helped with some great advice.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I say schedule it. The baby is full term a week before due date. I don't think it makes a difference to baby. My recovery after scheduled C-section was sooooooo awesomely better than my recovery from emergency C-section. Also, I felt better having my Dr. there to deliver me and only me rather than hope the Dr.s wouldn't be too overwhelmingly busy when I came in already in labor.

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answers from Pocatello on

K so your husband and the people on here that are stating that you should wait until you go into labor and then have a c-section don't know what they're talking about! I have had 2 c-sections first was an emergency and 2nd was scheduled. And they were like night and day. Doesn't anyone realize all the extra risk that are involved in waiting until you go into labor? That is why they do it a week before your due date. Because your far enough a long to have a full term healthy baby but hopefully it's early enough to get the baby out before labor starts. I am pregnant now (31 weeks) so I have my c-section scheduled again for week 39. When you have a scheduled c-section you go in with plenty of time to get all hooked up to the iv's, get ready for surgery and have baby taken out with the least amount of stress to your body, your scar on your uterus, and most importantly your baby. Plus not going into labor helps your body recover so much faster. My recovery from c-section #2 was so much faster and I was in less pain. Plus with my first because it was an emergency one they couldn't get the spinal block in right so they had to put my out completely. It was so sad. I didn't even know when they took my baby and I was in recovery without my baby for much longer. With my 2nd c-section I was able to have plenty of time to get numb so I was awake for the surgery. Much better experience. Again this is just another example of one of those crazy things that can happen when you wait to go into labor and have to have an emergency c-section. So stick with a scheduled 39 week c-section. It will be best for you and your baby.

And don't get too upset with people who aren't doctors and think they know how your pelvis is and whether or not you are too small. That is my problem too. I was in labor for 12 hours and never made it past a 6. Once they got in there and did the c-section they said my baby couldn't fit through my pelvis. And she was only 6 pounds 9 oz. So I understand what it's like and it makes me so mad when people try to tell me if I would have done something different I would have been able to get the baby out. I honestly don't see how I could have "made" my body get passed a 6. That's like saying any woman can make herself go into labor on any given day. It's just not happening. So again people need to stop acting like doctors when they're not :)

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answers from Portland on

I am a childbirth educator and while I can't tell you what the "right" answer is, I can tell you that you're on the right path to figuring this out with your husband. You're asking around to other women. Great! Also start doing some honest-to-goodness research including, perhaps, getting a second opinion.
True cephalo-pelvic disproportion (a fancy way of saying the babies head is too large in proportion to the size of your pelvis) is very, very hard to diagnose accurately and there are lots of women who were told that and went on to have babies vaginally (often even larger than the baby that was born by c-section).
Some things to consider that may not have been mentioned yet are: Each subsequent c-section gets a little riskier because of the scar tissue formed between layers of tissue (adhesions), if you plan to have more than two children this might be a larger concern, VBAC is probably a possibility if you want it, babies *can* be born less-than-mature even if they are within the technical definition of term. There's a movement by the March of Dimes right now to get doctors not to do any non-medical inductions or c-sections before 39 complete weeks. Yours would be at 39 weeks, so it not *too* early, but it's definitely the earliest acceptable time. Since babies all gestate a little differently, it's impossible to tell if this will be too early for *your* baby or not.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

It is absolutely in the best interest of your health and the baby's to have a planned C-section BEFORE you go into labor! There are a lot more complications that can and will arise when you are actively contracting during surgery. They will try to stop the contractions, but it doesn't always work. You need to talk to your doctor about this and have your husand present at the time so he can hear it to. 1 week that far along isn't going to make a huge difference, whereas doing a C-section while contracting can be risky for both mom and baby.

I have had 2 C-sections.

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answers from Austin on

I am a midwife. No one can know for sure that your pelvis is too small to pass a baby unless they have done a series of x-rays. It is very, very rare to have a pelvis too small. It was more common decades ago when rickets was prevalent and caused the pelvis to deform. A VBAC is much safer and healthier for you and the baby. Hire a doula, go into labor naturally, do a drug free birth so that you can squat and help yourself have a vaginal birth. When women lie on their backs it closes up the pelvis. You need to be upright to open your pelvis. It is also much, much better for the baby to choose its due date. The baby releases a chemical from its lungs to let the mom's body know its ready to be born. Before this happens the baby is not ready. You need to read these books: Pushed by Jennifer Block, The Thinking Woman's Guide to Better Birth by Henci Goer and Silent Knife.

Take Care,

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answers from Phoenix on

First, my experience so you know where my advice is coming from...
With my first, I went into labor, pushed, he got stuck and had a c-section. With my second we talked about possibly trying a v-bac, but then found out she was about the same size as the first, so we scheduled another c-section (I have a flat pelvis, my kids have big heads, it doesn't work!) A week before I was scheduled for a c-section I went into labor, hard and fast, I was a 7-8 when we got to the hospital, it was awful trying to get an IV started, being in all the pain of labor, then trying to get an epidural in, then going in for the c-section after my body was already tired from laboring (I naturally got to a 10 before I was even taken into the surgery room) SO... long story short :) It is so much easier to have a c-section scheduled and not put your body through labor and surgery! There is no way a doctor will schedule you for a c-section too early. If you are scheduled for 39 weeks, that isn't even considered early for the baby. Go with the scheduled it is so much easier!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I agree with the other mom's about a repeat c-section. My first was an emergency one, after 12 hours in labor and my son's head got "stuck" on my pelvis after 9cm dilated. I'm 5' tall and he just had a big head. With my daughter the doctor told me that the chances of her also having a big head were high, and she indeed has a big head, I guess it runs in my family:-)
The second time was sooooooo much easier (even tough she came three days before the scheduled day, but since the c-section was already planned I went straight for the surgery), no waiting, no epidural, no extra fluids, I was rested and full of energy to breastfeed her, with my son I was exausted, vomiting, my legs were huge because of all the fluids I got and I just slept for four hours after delivery, missed his fist hours of life, just not fun.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Im pretty much in the same boat as you. I have been watching videos, reading books, articles, doing research. So, basically, if you want an all natural birth, no drugs, and you dance around the room like a monkey, you can pass a 9 lb baby through your vagina, HOPEFULLY. But, I have seen videos where the mom has done all of this and the baby still wont come out. You know what would have happened to these women before c-sections? They would have died.
I do agree, that having an epidural and laying down is not ideal for birthing a baby, the epidural slows things down and laying down is not a good position to get the baby out. But, like I said, if you want to go all natural, that would be your best bet. Hope you arent afraid of pain of have any anxiety about that. :)
Now, a c-section, the baby isnt being squeezed through the birth canal, which pushes excess fluid out of their lungs, and often times they can have breathing problems even if they are full term.
I pushed for 2 hours with my 1st child, my doctor had to use the vaccuum to get her out. When we found out my second child was going to be over 9 lbs, as much as I hated it, I scheduled a c-section for fear of something bad happening to my baby or myself. I mean really, if you can barely get a 7 lb baby out, how is a 9 lb baby going to come out?? Im sure people will tell you its no big deal, but when you have the facts in front of you, its hard to know what to do.
So, you see where Im just running in circles here. I have no idea what to do. I want whats best for my baby and myself, thats my #1 priority, but have been called selfish for not doing an all natural child birth. I wish people would keep their comments to themselves and mind their own business. Its obviously a struggle to know what to do. So telling someone that if they cannot do an all natural child birth then they are doing it wrong is not right to me.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

i would encourage you to strongly consider vbac and interviewing and consulting with other caregivers, especially midwives. it is definitely not too late to explore other options and change plans. there are many many advantages to baby and mother of vaginal birth over cesearean, and especially scheduled cesarean. for one, at 39 weeks your baby could well be 3 or more weeks from ready to come out and therefore 3 weeks premature. even one week premature can be huge. and the dates could be wrong too, which could make it more like 5 weeks early! it is always best to allow labor to start on its own, even if there is a compelling reason for a repeat c-section, which does not seem to be the case from your history. the ob who did the surgery may just say that to all women so they won't feel bad (and i doubt that he could tell that anyway unless he really got in there and stuck his hand through your vagina!). unless you have had a pelvic injury (such as being crushed in a car accident), it is unlikely that your pelvis is too small to birth a baby. there are many possible reasons why the baby didn't engage - for example, the position the baby was in (which can be helped greatly before or during labor by a good midwife who can assess and optimize the baby's position), any fears you may have had which would make it hard for your internal muscles to relax (which could be either your own fears you came into labor with, or the fears of anyone around you), any interference to the birth process (of which you most likely had plenty, since you were in the hospital). the baby's distress also could have been due to many factors, none of which would carry over and be relevant to this birth (such as, again, interference such as pitocin, epidural, fears, positioning, cord compression). the concern about uterine rupture with vbac (the "reason" doctors usually give for doing a repeat c-section) is far overblown, very rare and easily prevented. the risks to baby and mother from repeat c-section are many, serious, and far more likely to occur. vbac has been shown to be much safer for mother and baby than repeat c-section. also, in addition to the baby not being ready if the c-section is scheduled (if (s)he were ready, labor would begin), labor provides many important benefits - preparing the baby's lungs to breathe, expelling fluids, providing an amazing cocktail of hormones that facilitate the baby's physical transition, as well as enhancing bonding and breastfeeding. the mother's recovery from a vaginal birth is far easier than from a c-section, and it is much easier for the mother to really connect with her baby when she's not in pain. not to mention the very significant serious risks from this major abdominal surgery. babies born by c-section, especially scheduled, have a much harder time initiating breastfeeding (I am a lactation consultant intern and see this every day - it is so sad), and many are never able to breastfeed successfully. the sudden shocking removal of the baby from its uterine home is both physically and emotionally traumatic, with lifelong repercussions.
i repeat, it is not too late for you to learn much more about this and think about changing plans and caregivers. there is much good information online, and there are many many good midwives who are experienced with vbac (especially homebirth midwives). i think you really owe it to your baby, yourself, your husband, and your child to take the time to really learn more about the pros/cons and risks/benefits, and talk with as many experienced midwives as you need to, to make the very best decision you can for this baby's birth. i think your husband is really onto something important here, and you do have time to change your plans.

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answers from Anchorage on

I agree with your husband. The baby Knows when it needs to come out, and you should let nature take its course. If after the time frame allowed anyways, if it doesn't proceed, the doctor at that point will let you know that c-section is an option (if the baby is in distress, raised heartbeat, etc.). But you may not have to have any of that happen if you just...wait. I would never rush this or take the baby out early - I have to say there are so many more c-sections these days, only because the ob/gyn doesn't want to sit around and wait for a woman in labor, they want to go out and play golf and you are interrupting their tee time. It's sad, but its complete reality. That's why I went with a midwife instead, they have a different mindset completely. Anyways, don't let any doctor corner you into any of this. How do you know you would not be able to birth naturally without a c-section ? It could happen, but if you set a date and do as the dr. ordered you will never know. I would do what your husband said, Much better idea.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

I would do your labor for you. It's not as bad as a bad period especially with a second baby.Goes lots quicker. Did your doctor talk to you about a V-Bac? Women who have a bikini cut can go through a normal birth following a C-section. It's the cut on the inside on the uterus that counts.

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answers from Seattle on

1 week before the due date is essentially full-term. There should be no issue.

My first was an "elective" c-section 3 weeks early (essentially full-term) because it would have been dangerous for me to go into labor. I had an amnio the morning of the c-section to make sure that my baby's lungs were fully developed.

I would be concerned that your husband is trying to convince you to do something that is potentially dangerous despite your doctor's recommendation.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I had the same issue with my first born and attempted a VBAC with my 2nd that ended in another C-section. In hind sight I wish that I had gone with my doctors advice and done a scheduled C-section. It would have been less trauma physically and emotionally. Have your husband talk to your doctor so he is fully informed. 38 weeks gestation is considered full term. Good luck to you and your family.



answers from Madison on

I had a c-section after hours and hours of labor and pushing with my 1st child. I had scheduled a c-section for my 2nd child. The day before I was suppose to go in I went into labor. By the time I got to the hospital I was pretty far along so they asked me if I still wanted the c-section or if I wanted to try for a VBAC. I wasn't really prepared for that question!!! Since I was so far along already I ended up going with the VBAC. prepared, labor may come before your scheduled c-section date! Otherwise I think the scheduled c-section is a good way to go.



answers from Dallas on

My two cents...I think a scheduled c-section is much safer than a VBAC. Let your doctor know your concerns about the week and see what they say. Personally, I don't think that the extra week merits taking a chance with delivery. Good luck!



answers from Portland on

Thanks for posting this question! I'm in a similar situation only I'm due in August.
Ultimately, I think you should go with the delivery method you are most comfortable with. The ability to make your own choice is the main factor in satisfaction with your birthing experience.
To the father I'd get him some information about the dangers of having a C-section AFTER going through a trial of labor. This is much more dangerous (not to mention the most physically tasking) of all the options. Also, I'm not sure about you, but I'm In the boat where my OB supports VBAC, but if I go into labor when
another doc is on call, they may insist on the C-Section anyway. Having that sort of doubt was really stressful to me.
Finally, the first question my doc asked me when we talked about delivery was "how many more kids do you plan on having?". The more c-sections you have, the more dangerous the procedure and the risks during the pregnancy increase (higher chances for placenta previa or tearing the scar).

Hope this helps!



answers from New York on

Having had 2 emergency c-sections, the second one while trying for a VBAC--do yourself a favor and schedule it. My second c-section was after 6 hours of active labor and I was about to start pushing. It was so much more painful and got infected as well. Perhaps you husband needs to talk to the doctor about his concerns. Anything past 37 weeks is considered full term.



answers from Honolulu on

My 1st pregnancy delivery was like yours. Emergency c-section. After HOURS of labor.

My 2nd was a planned c-section.

According to my Doctor, a c-section is PLANNED ahead of the due date, in order to avoid premature going into labor, IF that happens, the woman can hemorrhage. And then if that happens, worst case scenario, is that the baby or Mom, can be lost.
Per my Doctor, my c-section was performed at 38 weeks... 2 weeks, BEFORE my due date. That is standard.

Both my kids were born at over 8 pounds as well and 21" long. Perfectly fine and healthy and fully formed and their lungs too.

ALSO, some medical insurance, will not cover a VBAC. Some hospitals will not allow it either.

The recovery for my 2nd c-section, the planned one, was a GOOD recovery. Yes, because I did not have the HOUR AND HOURS of labor, before hand.


answers from Raleigh on

I think you should schedule it and not go in to labor. Once you go in to labor it is considered an emergency c-section. A lot can go wrong, and a lot could be done quicker than need be. If you at least schedule it (even if you don't make it to the date), you are attempting to do it at a safer pace. One week early is considered a full term baby; there is nothing for your hubby to be worried about!



answers from Gainesville on

My first daughter was born by C-section after 6 hours of pushing at 10 cm. She would not go through, and during the C-section the OB/GYN said "no way was anything getting through there." Perhaps if I were 16 and things were more elastic, I don't know. Or if my pelvis would separate better, but it didn't. I don't know why she would need X-rays, she's looking right at the damn thing from the inside; I figure that's a pretty good view, no?
My son was a scheduled C-section, a week early, and he came five days before that on his own. I was in labor, I went in, and I got a C-section. Really, it wasn't a big deal for me that I went into labor. In fact, because I was induced with my daughter because it had been 24 hours since my water broke, and the pitocin contractions are crazy, I didn't even recognize that I was in labor with my son. The contractions were so minor, relatively I mean, that I thought I was in false labor and I was at 8 cm.
I told the doctor my labor experiences with my daughter and he said it was up to me. I could try pushing him out, try for a VBAC, or I could go straight for the C-section. Given how narrow my pelvis is, I KNEW he would not deliver vaginally, and I opted to go for the C-section. I opted for the spinal block rather than the epidural, so if you have this option take it.
Look, the risk of uterine rupture is REALLY REALLY SMALL, whether you opt for the VBAC or the C-section. If you go into labor ahead of time, eh. No big deal. If you have a C-section one week before the due date, no big deal. Your baby will be fine. All of these judgy comments about how this way or that way is safer and better for the baby are dealing with VERY SMALL differences that are 1) either not backed by scientific data or 2) insignificant by the time the baby is like 6 months old.
If you are a good candidate for VBAC though, I would try it. My friends who have had them were very grateful. Recovery is MUCH easier with a VBAC than a c-section. It is MUCH easier on you. If you dilated to 10 cm and were there for a while and she did not descend, you are more likely to need another c-section than if you did not dilate all the way. But really, the main issue is that it is your decision and your baby will be fine pretty much no matter what happens, and you can feel confident in any of your choices.
Recovery for both of mine was about the same. I was up and walking (and bleeding on the hospital floor) after about 4 hours. Just up and down the halls, but still, about the same either way.
As my friend, who was dead set on the Bradley method (drug-free vaginal birth come hell or high water) said about her emergency C-section when her son coded and had to be resuscitated after birth because the cord was strangling him: his birth was a spiritual birth because everyone who needed to be there to make him survive was there. So there, judgy people!



answers from Portland on

Share your concerns with your doctor. They do NOT need to take the baby a week early. Your uterus will NOT rupture. My daughter was born in 2007 via emergency C section as she was "sunnyside up" and couldnt come down the birth canal. My son was a scheduled C section which I am thankful for as he was 9 lbs 10 oz and 22 inches long. I too was petrified that if they took the baby too soon that there would be complications. My doctor agreed to do my surgery on my due date and said that if my water broke or if I went in to natural labor just go to the hospital and a C section would be preformed. The main reason she said to schedule was just that, to schedule, that way I get my doctor, not who ever was on call. I went in the morning of my sons due date at 6:30am and he was born at 8:33am. I left the hospital on day 3 after birth. It was really a snap compaired to the first C section. I took pain pills for the 3 days I was in the hosptial and the 3 days after I went home and then didnt need them after. After my first surgery (with my daughter) I was on pain managment for almost a full month. So, in my experience, the second C section was really a great way to go.. I got to go home sooner and I was much more with it. :) Good luck with your new baby!



answers from Boston on

I haven't read the other posts, so sorry if this is a repeat.

Unless your husband is also a doctor, listen to the doctor.

If you took your car to the mechanic and he said that you needed new brakes, but you came home and your husband said that what you really needed were new spark plugs, I hope that you would listen to the mechanic.

Yes, a c-section has risks. Everything has risks. If you are unsure, ask your doc for more information and ask your husband to come along for the conversation. But don't just ignore what the doctor says. There's a reason he has an MD after his name.


answers from Rochester on

A week early is not "early"...I don't think you have that to worry about.

However, please do not WAIT until you go into labor, because when you get to the hospital, you will likely STILL have to have a c-section...except it will be an emergency c-section instead of a planned c-section. Some hospitals do not even allow you to attempt a VBAC (mine doesn't...I felt robbed that I didn't have the option to try with my second, but she was breech and I would've had to have one anyways.)

Further on that note...emergency c-section with number 1, so I was scheduled for number 2, but I went into VERY rapid labor at home about a week before it was scheduled (so, two weeks before due date). My water broke at home, unexpectedly, and by the time I got to the hospital some 45 minutes later I was in full blown labor. By the time I was prepped for surgery, etc, I was literally ready to have the baby however she was going to come. It was scary and nerve wrecking...

Plus, with both of my children, now, I have experienced "natural, drug free" labor LITERALLY until I was ready to push, then rushed off to have a c-section. I felt so cheated both times, because I had all the pain but didn't get the reward of actually "birthing" my child. Had I not had to go through labor first, and then surgery, I think the experiences would've been better and less exhausting.

Trust your doctor!



answers from Los Angeles on

My situation was similar to yours - emergency c-section for the first baby, scheduled for the second. It was SO much better and relaxing to have a scheduled c-section and not go into labor. My recovery was much, much easier the second time around and I was able to hold and nurse my baby much sooner.

One week early really isn't going to make a big difference in your baby's development. By 39 weeks, he/she will be fully developed.

I can honestly say that I loved having it scheduled and had a much better experience all around because of it.

Congrats on your new little one!
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answers from Columbus on

I think that you should wait until you are in labor, personally, because it is true that every day in utero is better than being born earlier; there is a reason why doctors refer to the first 3 months post-birth as the "4th trimester" and it's easier for babies who stay in the womb until they are ready to come out.... Plus, with the fact that sometimes the doctor's estimated due dates are wrong, I think its better to trust nature.

However, I disagree in general with the "you're too small for the baby to pass.".... There is no knowing how wide your pelvis will get until the actual birth, and no real way to measure it before hand. Plus, if you squat to give birth (which is natural and good position for vaginal birthing), it opens up your pelvis an additional 10% over other delivery positions, and helps gravity to work with you in delivering. If you're willing to explore the idea of a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), you might look contact your local ICAN group ( to find the names of VBAC-friendly docs who would be willing to review your previous birth and let you know if VBAC is an option for you--that's if you want to go that route. And do read up on VBACs.

I have heard that going into labor does make it for a longer recovery from the c-section. I think, though, a lot of that depends on how long and hard your labor is before the c-section. If you are just starting labor, then it's probably not really much effect.

The other thing you might want to look into is a "natural cesarean" which does it's best to mimic a vaginal birth, and is better for helping the mom bond with the baby and the baby with mom. Here are a couple of links:

Good luck & a safe delivery.



answers from Washington DC on

I would go with the scheduled date. A scheduled c-section a week before the due date is close enough to the due date, that the extra week is not going to make much of a difference in development. Don't worry about going into labor before that, if that happens then they would just do the section when you get to the hospital. I have had 3 c-sections the first was an emergency, and the last two were scheduled at 39 weeks. I loved having the scheduled date for planning purposes, it was a lot easier for me to arrange for childcare for my daughter.



answers from Jacksonville on

Talk to you doctor about it. My understanding was that they schedule them at 39 weeks so you won't go into labor and possibly have to have an emergency c-section where you won't be awake or have your husband with you. My c-section was scheduled for 39 weeks, but my water broke at 38 weeks. I went straight to the hospital and was able to have my husband there and I was awake and the baby is fine.



answers from Chicago on

My first pregnancy I carried twins, and I was blessed to go full term. My c-section was scheduled for 38 weeks and 2 days. I had two healthy, HUGE baby boys. I am now expecting baby #3 and we will have a scheduled c-section at 39 weeks. You will get opinions on both sides, but I LOVED having a scheduled c-section. It was very relaxing and calm and not having to go through labor for me made it a very pleasant experience. It is very different when you don't have hours of labor and pushing, then have major surgery. You will be very happy this time around! As for your husband's concern, a baby is considered full term if she reaches 37 weeks. Unless there is a possible mix-up with the conception/LMP date, your baby will be completely fine being born a week early.

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