Moms who undergo a c-section need to be more careful with their health. A surgical procedure always carries the risk of infection and that explains why you need to give more attention to that incision down there.
When your body is cut open to deliver your baby, there is a possibility that the bacteria might enter the body through the site of incision, leading to an infection. Though the chances are as less as 3-6% and the surgeons will make everything septic right from the instruments to your skin, we won’t want to take any chances by blindly ignoring the symptoms of a possible infection.
Women who have gestational diabetes, high-blood pressure or autoimmune disease, or obesity are at a higher risk of developing an infection. It is important to be careful with the wound and keep it clean and dry.
If you notice any of the symptoms of infection, inform your doctor immediately, be it at home or in the hospital. Usually, the signs show up after you come back home.
In case you can’t check the wound yourself, let someone look at the wound and see any signs of swelling or redness. Pain and swelling are the foremost signs of infection. If you sense pain near the cut, which isn’t getting any better or notice a fluid oozing out, chances are you have already caught the infection.
Look out for these symptoms as well—fever, burning sensation while urinating, a foul smelling vaginal discharge, excess bleeding from the vagina ( requiring you to change pads every hour), and pain or swelling in the legs.
In extreme cases, if the infection is left untreated, it could turn into a life-threatening infection called sepsis, wherein the bacteria infects the entire bloodstream. The person could feel feverish and experience increased heart rate and heavy breathing. It may be followed by low blood pressure, palpitations, light-headedness, reduced mental health including lethargy, anxiety, or confusion—all these are some dangerous symptoms of septic shock.
There could be other reasons that could increase the risk of infection associated with c-section. Infection could be caused due to chorioamnionitis ( infection of the amniotic sac) or in case the doctor didn’t provide you with antibiotics before surgery. The infection is more likely to happen in the following cases: when the incision is sutured using staples, the mother is on steroids, or there is excess blood loss during labor or birth.
How Your Treatment Will Follow
Your doctor will inform you how to care for the incision after you go home. In case, you notice signs of infection, consult your care giver immediately. If there is discharge or redness around the incision, the specialist will open the wound and swab the area to take the sample, which will be cultured to check the presence of bacteria in the wound.
If the infection is diagnosed as bacterial, you will be given antibiotics either orally or through IV (Intravenous). You might also need a sterile strips dressing on the wound if there is a fluid retention or a puss. Regular cleaning and dressing of the wound is required for which you will either stay at the hospital or have a home health nurse come to your home.
It will take over two weeks for the wound to heal. You may need more sutures or the doctor will leave the wound open to heal faster.
How You Can Prevent The Infection
A c-section incision usually takes around 6 weeks to heal, provided you don’t develop an infection—in that case, the recovery gets prolonged. Take enough rest and avoid putting pressure on the wound. Restrict movement, stay away from household work or lifting anything heavy.
When laughing, sneezing or coughing, keep a pillow or your hand on your abdomen and apply little pressure to give your stomach some support.
Drink lots of fluids while you are going through the healing and breastfeeding phase side by side. Avoid taking any medications without prescription from your doctor since you are nursing your baby.