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Recovering from caesarean delivery? Things you should do to prevent C-section infections

C-sections are generally safe, but sometimes infections may develop in the uterus, belly, or incision. Read on to know the common symptoms of C-section infections, and how to prevent them.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : June 1, 2020 8:15 AM IST

Mothers who had a caesarean delivery (C-section) need more time to recover than those who had a routine vaginal delivery. According to gynaecologists, full recovery from a C-section takes 4 to 6 weeks. But some mothers may take a significantly longer recovery time.

Caesarean delivery is the surgical delivery of a baby through incisions made in the mother's abdomen and uterus. C-sections are generally safe, but sometimes infections may develop in the uterus, belly, or incision, which often require treatment with antibiotics. About 6-11 percent of caesarean deliveries may develop infections, say experts.

Causes and risk factors of C-section infections

A C-section wound can get infected if bacteria enters it and spreads. Further, it can cause a uterine or abdominal infection. The bacterium Staphylococcus aureus is the most common cause of C-section wound infections. The risk of infections is slightly higher in an emergency C-section than a planned C-section, since the doctors and patients didn't get much time to prepare for the surgery.

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Certain maternal factors like obesity, poorly controlled diabetes, having a previous C-section, taking immunosuppressant medication, and smoking, can increase the risk of infection after a C-section. Also, if you have a penicillin allergy, then you have higher risk of C-section infections. Talk to an allergist to find out if you're allergic to penicillin or not.

Signs and symptoms of C-section infections may start appearing within a few days of surgery. Incision Infection may lead to -

  • Redness around the incision
  • Abnormal swelling around the incision
  • Fluid leaking from the wound

Internal or uterus infection after a C-section can cause symptoms like:

  • Fever
  • Increasing abdominal pain
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge

Taking care of your c-section wound at home

If it's a planned C-section, doctors usually suggest using an antibacterial soap while showering prior to the procedure. Women are also discouraged from shaving beforehand. Expected moms are also given antibiotics before Caesarean section to decrease the risk of uterine infection. Below are some tips to for would-be-mothers and new mothers to prevent infections after C-section delivery.

  • If you have diabetes, it's important to control your sugar levels before and just after surgery.
  • Usually the stitches or clips will be removed after about five days, unless you have dissolvable stitches.
  • While you you're at home recovering from the surgery, strictly follow wound care instructions.
  • Once your dressing has been removed, clean and dry your wound carefully every day.
  • Avoid placing the baby's weight directly on your wound.
  • Wear cotton high-waisted pants and loose clothes.

When to seek help after a c-section

Your c-section wound will continue to feel sore and bruised for a few weeks. Your doctor may recommend taking painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, for at least 7-10 days after your c-section. Take your pain relief regularly and on time, even if you don't have pain during this period.

Contact your doctor immediately if:

  • you have a high temperature
  • your abdomen feels sore or tender, or you have an upset stomach
  • your wound becomes red, swollen, painful
  • your wound has a discharge, or it is not healing properly

These can be signs of infection. C-section infections may be treated with antibiotics. But in severe cases, a small surgery may be conducted to prevent further complications.

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