The postpartum period is usually full of care and caution to avoid complications like hemorrhoids, infections and more.
Postpartum infections commonly occur along the genital tract, genital regions or at any incisions due to a cesarean delivery or episiotomy, in the weeks that follow delivery, apart from some cases like mastitis which are due to breastfeeding.
Pregnancy and the child birth process are associated with many physiological changes, which increase susceptibility to infections.
Usually, the mother is discharged from the hospital within a week after delivery which is a very short time for observation, and hence the chances of developing an infection remain even up to six weeks after pregnancy.
Some Causes May Be
Endometritis – infection of the endometrium (lining the uterus) is one of the most common infections. Any premature rupture of membranes also contributes to increased possibility of infection.
Infection of the genital tract due to frequent cervical examinations or prolonged labor.
Infection of the placental site, by any bacteria travelling up the vagina due to use of any non-sterile equipment or hands.
Mastitis, which is an inflammation of the breast tissues.
Any remnant tissues, especially of the placenta in the uterus can develop infection.
In case of episiotomies, the tear or incision may develop infection or sepsis due to many reasons including lack of hygiene during the process and on the part of the mother after delivery.
Post surgical wound infections, are common after cesarean operations.
Urinary tract infection during the process of delivery.
Infections may also arise at the bladder or kidneys, in case catheterization was used during the labor process.
Some signs and symptoms could be fever, abdominal pain or discomfort, a burning sensation along the genital tract, respiratory tract problems, nausea, headache, tachycardia, tenderness in the area affected, inflammation, bleeding etc. Usually, a blood test or an ultrasound is used to confirm the infection.
The Treatment Includes
Any remnant placental tissue must be removed through surgical intervention. Any stitches at the incision that may have developed the infection must be cleaned and drained of any pus and then medicated.
Antibiotics are used to treat in case of bacterial infection. Analgesics may be used to alleviate pain.
Drinking lots of fluids to avoid dehydration, bed rest and getting adequate sleep and a good nourishing diet can also help.
In case the infection is severe, it may be necessary to separate the baby from the mother to avoid any effect on the baby.
If the infections go untreated, they might cause blood clots or reach into your kidneys or get into your blood stream causing sepsis. Moreover, it prolongs your postpartum recovery period which may affect your overall physical and emotional health and your connection with the baby.