So what is an elective cesarean? Really - it's any cesarean that is scheduled. Whether or not your doctor recommended it. So breech cesareans, repeat cesareans and cesareans for suspected macrosomia are all considered "elective" even if they were done against the wishes of the mother.
Birthing: Elective Caesareans Tied to Breathing Problems
Babies delivered by elective Caesarean sections are significantly more likely to have respiratory problems than those delivered vaginally or by emergency surgery, a new study finds.
Researchers studied 34,458 successive live single births at a hospital in Aarhus, Denmark; 2,687 were elective Caesareans. The study was published online on Dec. 11 in The British Medical Journal.
The younger the gestational age, the more breathing problems there were for all babies, and the authors emphasized that the risk was small for all groups.
Still, the increased risk for the elective Caesarean babies was notable. At 37 weeks, they were almost four times as likely as others of the same gestational age to have respiratory problems, at 38 weeks three times as likely, and at 39 weeks almost twice as likely.
The differences remained even after controlling for maternal age, smoking, alcohol intake and other variables.
The reason is unclear. The researchers theorize that hormonal and physiological changes in labor might help fetal lungs mature properly.
“We know that the earlier a baby is born, the more immature the lungs,” said Dr. Anne Kirkeby Hansen, the lead author and a research fellow at Aarhus University Hospital. “According to our study, it would be a good idea to postpone elective Caesareans until 39 weeks, even though we know that some women might go into spontaneous labor before that date.”