Postpartum Infections – 5 Types & 9 Symptoms You Should Be Aware Of

Postpartum Infections

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Are you experiencing discomfort after your baby’s arrival? Are those vaginal lacerations inflamed?

After your baby’s birth, your body takes time to heal and recover back to its earlier state. While you may have taken the best possible care, chances of contracting certain infections is still quite common. Being aware of postpartum infections will help you take care of the situation effectively and in time.

What Is Postpartum Infection?

The term postpartum infection is used to refer to different types of infections that happen after a vaginal or a caesarean birth or during the stages of breastfeeding. While it is normal to experience some amount of bleeding or fatigue after the birth, there are certain conditions that actually require a more detailed medical examination and cure.

During childbirth your body is exceptionally prone to infections. You have open wounds in your uterus and there are various lacerations around your vagina and cervix. If you’ve had a caesarean delivery, the wound remains fresh for quite some time. A postpartum infection is more common in women who have had a caesarean delivery or had a premature membrane rupture.

[ Read: Postpartum Urinary Incontinence ]

Postpartum Infection Symptoms: 

Once your baby is born, you are generally discharged from the hospital within 2-5 days, depending on your recovery and baby’s medical health. This may not be enough time to understand if you have any postpartum infection. Sometimes, the infection may start once you have reached back home.

As postpartum infections can be of various types, the symptoms mostly depend on the specific condition. However, here are some of the more common signs of postpartum infection. You could experience either all or some of these, individually or in combination, in case of an infection.

  • Fever
  • A foul smelling discharge from the vagina if it is a vaginal or uterine infection
  • A foul smelling discharge from the wound
  • Pain and tenderness in the infected area
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Postpartum depression
  • Difficulty in having sex even after the doctor has given a go ahead
  • Excessive hair loss
  • Problems in passing urine or stool

[ Read: Postpartum Rectal Bleeding ]

Types of Postpartum Infections:

Here are some of the most common postpartum infections that you may experience. Remember that if there is any other discomfort that you are experiencing, you should get it checked with your doctor at the earliest.

1. Postpartum Haemorrhage:

Excessive bleeding that happens after delivery and continues even after the first few days is known as a postpartum haemorrhage. This mostly happens when you have experienced a very long and stressful labour, have had multiple births together or in case your uterus contracted some infection.

  • A postpartum haemorrhage usually happens when the uterus is not able to contract properly after the placenta has been delivered.
  • It could also be due to any lacerations in your uterus, vagina or cervix area.
  • Right after the birth, in case there is heavy bleeding, your doctor might massage the uterus to help it contract.
  • Alternatively, your doctor may give you a synthetic hormone called oxytocin that helps stimulate contractions.
  • You may be put through a blood test to check for any infection or anaemia.
  • In cases where the blood loss is excessive, the patient may require a blood transfusion.
  • Sometimes bleeding may also begin after 2-3 weeks post-delivery. This could be due to a part of the placenta that may still be in the uterus.

[ Read: Postpartum Haemorrhage ]

2. Uterine Infection:

During delivery, the placenta separates from the uterine wall and is pushed out of the vagina within 20 minutes after the birth. Sometimes though, pieces of the placenta remain in the uterus, leading to infection.

  • Any infection in the amniotic sac at the time of labour can also lead to uterine infection.
  • The main symptoms of uterine infection include a foul smelling discharge, swollen and tender uterus, high fever or very high white blood cell count.
  • In most cases, your doctor will prescribe certain intravenous antibiotics to prevent any further complications that could be dangerous.

3. Caesarean Wound Infection:

It is possible to develop an infection in the caesarean wound a few days after the birth.

  • Ensure you follow the care instructions that have been given by your doctor at the time of discharge.
  • Watch out for any signs of infection, like redness, swollen skin or pus discharge.
  • Do not scratch on the wound.
  • Inform your doctor as soon as there is any discomfort.

[ Read: Periods After Cesarean Delivery ]

4. Perineal Pain:

The area between your vagina and rectum is known as the perineum. Pain in this area is a common occurrence if you have had a vaginal birth.

  • The tissues in this area may have torn or stretched at the time of delivery.
  • You could be experiencing a feeling of swelling or soreness in this area.
  • Ensure you clean yourself from the front to back instead of back to front to avoid any further infection.

[ Read: Postpartum Perineal Pain ]

5. Heavy Vaginal Discharge:

You will be experiencing a heavy vaginal discharge for the first few weeks after birth. This is usually the blood and the remains of the placenta that is coming out.

  • Initially the discharge will be red and may have blood clots.
  • This will gradually turn to pink and then white or yellowish, finally stopping altogether.
  • This discharge should stop or slow down considerably in about 2 weeks after birth.
  • In case you do not notice a reduction in the flow or the color is still dark and smells foul, talk to your doctor immediately.
  • While you were nurturing your baby and gave birth, your body has gone through a vast amount of changes. Pregnancy and the time after is also a time when your body’s immunity level is low and you are at a risk of developing an infection.

If you are feeling uncomfortable do not hesitate to talk to your doctor. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Did you experience any postpartum infection? Do share your experiences with other moms here.

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