Post-cesarean wound infection: What you need to know

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Here's how to spot, treat, and manage infections that occur on a post-Cesarean surgical site

Undergoing a C-section brings with it a certain set of risks, but they are not just found during the surgery itself. In some cases, post-cesarean wound infections can occur up to several weeks after the procedure. It’s important for all moms-to-be, regardless of their planned method delivery, to know how to properly care for a wound after surgery.

What is a post-cesarean wound infection?

It is an infection that occurs at the surgical incision site following a C-section, usually bacterial in origin. Though it can affect any woman who has undergone a C-section, those most at risk are those with diabetes, or immunosuppressive disorders, such as HIV.

If a mom has been taking steroids for a prolonged period of time, she is also at risk. Other risk factors are insufficient prenatal care, a history of C-sections, prolonged labor or surgery, heavy blood loss during surgery, or if they didn’t take antibiotics or were not given proper sterile care pre-surgery.

shutterstock 30996281 Post cesarean wound infection: What you need to know

photo: shutterstock

What are the signs and symptoms of a post-Cesarean wound infection?

Suspect a post-Cesarean wound infection if you note the following symptoms:

  • High fever (38ºC and above)
  • Wound sensitivity
  • Severe pain in the lower abdomen
  • Redness, pain, swelling, pus discharge from the incision site
  • Leg pain or leg swelling
  • Pain upon urination
  • Vaginal discharge that is foul in odor
  • Profuse bleeding (Soaking a feminine pad in just an hour)
  • Bleeding with large clots

Though infections can happen weeks after a mom is discharged, it can also be occur while a mom is still in the hospital.

Medical staff will note how a wound looks, or how long it takes to heal. They can also observe a wound for common infection symptoms as well as certain types of bacteria.

How is a post-Cesarean wound infection treated?

Antibiotics are usually prescribed for several days to help resolve a bacterial infection, specifically in cases of Cellulitis, or infections caused by staphylococcal and streptococcal bacteria.

In the case of wound abscesses, antibiotics are the best course of treatment, accompanied by wound care and pus drainage through making a new incision on the area. Antiseptic gauze is later applied and close monitoring is done to make sure the wound is healing properly.

How can a post-Cesarean wound infection be prevented?

Though these types of infections can be unexpected, especially for first-time moms, there are measures to prevent this from happening, especially in moms who have had C-sections in the past.

Here are some tips to prevent post-Cesarean wound infection:

  • Strictly adhere to post-op and wound care instructions given by your doctor or nurse
  • Take antibiotics religiously, without skipping doses
  • Regularly change wound dressings and thoroughly clean your wound
  • Refrain from wearing tight clothing or applying lotions or creams on the wound
  • Don’t force yourself to carry your baby if you are uncomfortable. Do not apply too much pressure on the wound. Seek help to find a good position for breastfeeding.
  • Keep skin folds from coming into contact with the wound area
  • Always take your temperature. Call the doctor in case of high fever.
  • If you note any of the symptoms mentioned above—pus, redness, pain, swelling—call for help immediately. Remember, post-Cearean wound infection can happen weeks after you are discharged from the hospital.

sources: Healthline, Livestrong

READ: What are gentle C-sections and are they right for you?