Neonatal respiratory distress is a major complication of elective Cesarean section. To clarify the effect of preceding labor on the incidence of respiratory distress, we studied 45 term neonates who were born with labor and 85 term neonates who were born without labor. Transient tachypnea of the newborns accounted for the majority of respiratory distress in term neonates. Respiratory distress occurred less frequently in term neonates delivered after the onset of labor compared to those delivered before the onset of labor (11.1% vs. 31.8%, p < 0.002). Neonatal respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) occurred in 4 of 85 (4.7%) term neonates delivered before the onset of labor. In contrast, none of the 45 term neonates born after the onset of labor developed RDS (p = 0.02). Awaiting the onset of labor appears to be beneficial in preventing neonatal RDS for term neonates delivered by elective Cesarean section.