Almost 1 in 3 babies in the United States are born by Cesarean section. While C-sections are relatively safe, they are nonetheless considered major surgery as your abdominal muscles and uterus are opened to remove the infant. Like any surgery, there can be unexpected complications. One of the most common complications is an incision infection. Here is what you to know. 

What Causes A Post-Cesarean Wound Infection?

Bacteria is almost always the culprit. While the skin and surgical instruments are thoroughly disinfected prior to surgery, the skin harbors bacteria, and unfortunately, hospitals do as well. The most common culprits are Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus. They can enter the body via the air, through a caregiver, or from simply migrating from somewhere else on your body to the wound opening.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Post-Cesarean Wound Infection?

Symptoms can vary depending on the severity and location of the infection. The infection may be internal, on the uterus, or it may be external, on your abdomen.

  • A fever over 100.4 Fahrenheit
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pain and redness around the abdominal incision
  • Pus oozing from the abdominal incision
  • Swelling of the incision that wasn't previously there
  • Leg pain
  • Foul-smelling odor from the incision site or from the vagina
  • Burning when urinating
  • Excessive bleeding or passing large clots
  • General malaise

How Is A Post-Cesarean Wound Infection Diagnosed?

While some mothers may show signs of infection shortly after birth and before even leaving the hospital, many times, the infection won't present itself until a week or two later. If you have any of the above symptoms, you will want to contact your doctor immediately. They will visually examine the wound, and if any pus is present, they will take a sample to send off to the lab to identify the bacteria strain. This will help decide the best course of treatment.

How Is A Post-Cesarean Wound Infection Treated?

Antibiotics is the standard course of treatment. You may be re-admitted to the hospital to receive intravenous antibiotics for a day or two, and then continue with oral antibiotics. If the abdominal wound itself is abscessed, the doctor may need to open the wound back up. It will then be cleaned and disinfected and then packed with gauze with antiseptic on it to prevent white blood cells, or pus, from forming again. It will need to be checked and cleaned frequently by medical professionals. Once the infection is under control, the wound may be closed again, or it may just be left to slowly close on its own, with special care taken to keep it clean.  

If you have other questions about what to expect after a C-section, talk to a doctor like those at Vita Center For Women LLC for more information.