Most Common Postpartum Infections: What You Need to Know

After a few days or weeks of giving birth, your body can experience and an array of frustrating symptoms. 

Like just about everything else in your life, your body faces significant changes in the weeks and months following your baby's birth. In this postpartum period, which begins immediately after delivery, your body will heal from childbirth, rebuild its strength and begin to regain its pre-pregnancy shape.

After a few days or weeks of giving birth, your body can experience and an array of frustrating symptoms.

The more you know about what to expect, the better prepared you'll be to cope with the physical changes that come post-pregnancy.

Having the perfect understanding of this kind of symptoms and what they can cause will help prevent it, and you will experience them no more. Read on to learn about the most common postpartum infections and why they occur.

Pelvic infection

Most persistent fevers after childbirth are caused by pelvic infection, which is the most common serious complication after childbirth. This type of infection is much more common in women who have given birth by C-section compared with those who had a vaginal birth.

The symptoms of pelvic infection can range from mild to severe, and may include low abdominal pain, cramping, and an unusual vaginal discharge. Pelvic infections are treated with antibiotics.

Uterine infections

Normally, the placenta separates from the uterine wall during delivery and is expelled from the vagina within 20 minutes after giving birth. If pieces of the placenta remain in the uterus (called retained placenta), it can lead to infection.

An infection of the amniotic sac (the bag of water surrounding the baby) during labor may lead to a postpartum infection of the uterus: flu-like symptoms accompanied by a high fever, rapid heart rate, and abnormally high white blood-cell count. Swollen, tender uterus and foul-smelling discharge usually indicate uterine infection.

When the tissues surrounding the uterus also are infected, pain and fever can be severe. Uterine infections usually can be treated with a course of intravenous antibiotics, which are used to prevent potentially dangerous complications such as toxic shock.

Kidney infections

A kidney infection, which can occur if bacteria spread from the bladder, includes symptoms such as urinary frequency, a strong urge to urinate, high fever, a generally sick feeling, pain in the lower back or side, constipation and painful urination.

Once a kidney infection is diagnosed, a course of antibiotics – either intravenous or oral – usually is prescribed. Patients are instructed to drink plenty of fluids, and are asked to give urine samples at the beginning and end of treatment to screen for any remaining bacteria.

Be sure to report any unexplained fever that develops in the early weeks after delivery to your doctor. This could be a sign of postpartum infection.

Mastitis

Mastitis, or breast infection, usually is indicated by a tender, reddened area on the breast (the entire breast may also be involved). Breast infections – which can be brought on by bacteria and lowered defenses resulting from stress, exhaustion or cracked nipples – may be accompanied by fever, chills, fatigue, headache and/or nausea and vomiting. Any of these symptoms should be reported to your doctor, who may recommend treatment with antibiotics.

If you have a breast infection, you may continue to nurse from both breasts. Mastitis does not affect your breast milk. It's also important to rest and drink plenty of fluids. You may also want to avoid constricting bras and clothing.

Urinary tract infection

A UTI occurs when there is a significant number of bacteria present in your urinary tract. Women are at an anatomical disadvantage due to the short urethra, which enables bacteria to gain access to the bladder more easily. The perineum is always populated by gut bacteria and it proximity to the vagina, and therefore the urethra further contributes to the high incidence of UTI in women.

Painful urination, urinary frequency, urgency, blood in the urine and fever are the symptoms of UTI. Other symptoms include: any pain in your back or lower abdomen; cloudy or dark urine that has a strange smell; feeling tired or shaky; fever or chills (this is only if the UTI has already reached your kidneys).

Experts note that the incidence of postpartum UTI is higher after C-section, possibly due to catheterization. Women who had a Caesarean usually have a

urinary catheter inserted, and this increases the risk of infection. Postpartum women also have pads put on, and these can also increase the risk of UTI.

Now, if you have been having any sort of complications in your body, the best way to overcome this is by visiting your doctor.

Your physician will help you determine if you do have or do not have such an infection and will decide on the appropriate postpartum infection treatment if you have such an infection.

No worries, most postpartum infections van be treated with the use of antibiotics and can be easily done by yourself. However, postpartum infections shouldn't be taken lightly, and you must seek medical attention.

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