Post-Cesarean Wound Infection: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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The joy of pregnancy with the excitement of motherhood during the delivery of the baby is amazing. But if there is a cesarean delivery, it is necessary to take care of the mother first. The entire process is surgical which makes it open to the risk of contracting a post-cesarean infection. The wound will take its own time to heal and the stitches will fall off when they are due but if an infection makes its way to the wound, it requires precautions.

c section incision infection

 

In this article:

What is C-Section Wound Infection?
Causes of Infection after Cesarean Birth
Signs and Symptoms of C-Section Infection
Diagnosis for C-Section Wound Infection
Types of Infections After C-Section
Complications of Infection after C-Section
C-Section Infection Treatment
Preventive Measures for Cesarean Section Infection
Tips that may Help in Healing of C-Section Wound
Cesarean Section Infection and Breastfeeding

A Guide for Post-Cesarean Wound Infection

What is C-Section Wound Infection?

A C-section is basically an incision made on the body, and post surgery, it is no different from a wound. And with any wound, there is a chance of microbes and bacteria finding way to it and leading to infection.

Causes of Infection after Cesarean Birth

Some of the causes and factors that can raise the risk are –

  • Suffering a large loss of blood during the cesarean delivery or even during labour or while the surgery is in process
  • Cesarean delivery and labour have lasted longer than usual
  • Absence of antibiotics or any pre-surgery care to prevent infection
  • History of having cesarean deliveries
  • Prenatal checkups have been erratic during the course of pregnancy
  • Consumption of steroids for extended periods
  • Amniotic fluid is infected along with the foetal membrane leading to chorioamnionitis while labour is in progress
  • Having a condition of diabetes or diseases that weaken the immune system like HIV
  • Suffering from obesity

 

Signs and Symptoms of C-Section Infection

By observing the area of infection, the extent to which the wound has been infected can only be surmised. Certain signs and symptoms which are a strong indicator of an infection being present in the body are –

  • Area of the incision have redness or swelling accompanied by some pain
  • Abdominal pain after delivery begins to increase instead it should decrease
  • Wound starts to drain out pus or leaks out any other liquid
  • Actual wound starts to sting a lot and does not improve over time
  • Onset of a fever with a temperature above 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Unable to pass urine or intense burning sensation with pain
  • Discharge emitting from the vagina that has bad odour
  • Vaginal bleeding increases causing to change pads within the same hour
  • Vaginal bleeding consists of clot-like structures or blobs
  • Legs begin to swell again and start to hurt

Diagnosis for C-Section Wound Infection

  • Most doctors do examine the incision area and the wound before the discharge to ensure that it is infection free. However, many women do contract the infection a week after discharge, when they reach home.
  • Doctors will primarily examine the area from the outside without removing any tapes and sutures. Most of the times the redness and swelling of the region gives an idea whether there is an infection.
  • At times, the sutures might be examined closely or the covering bandage will be removed a little to get a better idea of how the healing has been progressing. An infection can break down the sutures earlier than necessary.
  • If there is pus in the region, the doctor may use an injection to drain out the pus gradually and reduce the irritation. At the same time, a swab sample might be taken to gather the culture present in the wound and sent to the lab for diagnosis.
  • The doctor would also want to know how taking care of wound is done and what possible elements it might have been exposed to in the past week. This could give them a better idea of the source of infection.

Types of Infections After C-Section

Cellulitis – when the tissue around the incision region begins to get red and swollen and looks like an inflammation, it is a strong sign of cellulitis. This is primarily a result of an infection caused by specific bacteria belonging to the staphylococcal or streptococcal strains.

Abdominal abscess – once the incision region inflamed and is quite tender, the areas around the wound edges begin to swell as well. This leads to the bacteria infection in the cavity of the tissue which leads formation of pus. It starts leaking out from the incision as well.

Endometritis – at times, the infection can reach the uterus and begin to irritate the uterine lining. This is also a result of the bacteria that cause the prior abscesses resulting in this condition termed as endometritis. It causes a lot of abdominal pain and vaginal discharge with high fever.

Thrush – caused by a fungus present in the body called candida and usually affects women with weak immunity combined with steroid consumption. This can cause a yeast infection or even mouth sores due to the absence of good bacteria to keep the regions healthy.

Urinary infections – certain women may require catheters to facilitate passage of urine. There increase chances of UTIs, thanks to the bacteria E.coli.

Complications of Infection after C-Section

  • Necrotizing fascitis
  • Fascial rupture
  • Dehiscence of the wound
  • Wound evisceration

C-Section Infection Treatment

  • Keep a regular check on the wound to see if it is healing properly or there is any seepage or leaking of fluid from the area.
  • Any pus that exists should be drained out from the abscesses to facilitate the healing.
  • A sterile saline solution should be used to clean the wound fully and remove any bacteria.
  • If the fluid is still leaking the wound is to be packed using sterile strips that help in absorbing the leaks.
  • Cleaning and dressing of the wound should be done regularly and properly.

Preventive Measures for Cesarean Section Infection

  • Take proper care of the wound post-surgery and inform the doctor immediately in case of any complications
  • Stick to the antibiotic prescriptions and dosage frequency for the entire course
  • Regularly and properly undertake cleaning of the wound and changing dressings
  • Use and wear loose clothes over the incision region and refrain from applying any lotions
  • Opt for different ways to holding the baby during breastfeeding to avoid pressure on the wound
  • Don’t let the skin fold over the wound or touch the area or cause irritation
  • Let the doctor know if the body temperature begins to rise about 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • If signs of pus, pain or swelling begin to show, contact the doctor immediately

Tips that may Help in Healing of C-Section Wound

  • Make sure to take regular medication to treat the pain and swelling
  • Support the stomach and abdomen when sneezing and walk straight without any strain on the back
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Do not lift any heavy items
  • Take as much rest as possible between feeds

Cesarean Section Infection and Breastfeeding

It may be difficult to breastfeed the baby if having an infection due to C-section. Here are few things that can be done to make the process easier –

  • Lay down on one side and hold the baby next to you. Push the breast towards his mouth and let him latch on. As he starts to feed, you can use your other arm to support his head.
  • Bend the elbow to hold the baby on one side. While supporting his head, bring him closer to the breast as the baby will lie on your forearm. Use a pillow to support.

Conclusion

The presence of an internal infection after C-section can get quite debilitating for the mother just recovering from the surgery. Take care of the baby properly. For any complication contact the doctor.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5322852/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324505.php

Hope this article was of help to you! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy, Healthy and Empowered Women!!

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