A cervical infection after childbirth, also called a postpartum infection, is an infection of the cervix, uterus, or both. It can occur anytime in the puerperium.
One of the most common infections that can occur after childbirth is a cervical infection. This type of infection can cause several problems for new mothers, including fever, chills, and pain. In some cases, it can even lead to more serious health issues. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes, treatment, and prevention of cervical infections after childbirth.
What is a cervical infection after childbirth?
A cervical infection after childbirth, also called a postpartum infection, is an infection of the cervix, uterus, or both. It can occur anytime from delivery until six weeks postpartum.
What causes postpartum infections?
Postpartum infections are usually caused by bacteria that enter the uterus during delivery. The most common bacteria responsible for postpartum infections are those that normally live in the vagina, such as E. coli, Group B streptococcus, and Staphylococcus aureus. These bacteria can cause infections if they ascend into the uterus during delivery.
Bacteria can also enter the uterus through the bloodstream during or after delivery. This can happen if the woman has an infection elsewhere in her body, such as a urinary tract infection, and the bacteria spread through her blood to her uterus.
In some cases, the bacteria that cause postpartum infections are present in the woman’s body before delivery and are passed to the baby during delivery. These bacteria can cause infections in the baby, such as pneumonia or meningitis.
There are a few things that can put you at risk of developing a cervical infection after childbirth. If you had a cesarean delivery, you’re at a higher risk. This is because the incision in your abdomen can provide an entry point for bacteria. Other risk factors include:
- A history of cervical infections
- An STD
- Tearing during childbirth
- Prolonged labor
- Use of forceps or vacuum during delivery
- Bacterial vaginosis
- During labor, your doctor may do multiple vaginal exams.
If you’re aware of these risk factors, you can take steps to prevent an infection. For example, if you have a history of cervical infections, you may want to take prophylactic antibiotics during labor. And if you have an STD, it’s important to get treated before delivery.
What are the symptoms of postpartum infections?
Postpartum infections can cause several symptoms, including:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Loss of appetite
- Increased heart rate
- Pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Nausea or vomiting
- Red or swollen perineal wound
How are postpartum infections diagnosed?
Postpartum infections are usually diagnosed based on symptoms. Your healthcare provider will likely ask about your medical history and perform a physical exam. They may also order tests, such as a blood test or urine test, and use a cotton swab to take a culture of your uterus and cervix to confirm the diagnosis.
How are postpartum infections treated?
Postpartum infections are usually treated with antibiotics. If you have a mild infection, you may be able to take oral antibiotics at home. But if you have a more severe infection, you may need to be hospitalized and treated with intravenous antibiotics.
Try to keep the area clean and dry. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids and get rest when you can.
Once the infection is cleared, you will likely have a follow-up appointment with your healthcare provider to make sure the infection has resolved.
How can postpartum infections be prevented?
The best way to prevent postpartum infections is to practice good hygiene during pregnancy and delivery. This includes:
- Washing your hands regularly
- Avoiding douching
- Avoiding contact with people who have infections
- Wearing cotton underwear
- Avoiding constipation
If you’re at high risk of developing a postpartum infection, your healthcare provider may recommend taking prophylactic antibiotics during labor.
Postpartum infections are serious but can be treated. By knowing the symptoms and risk factors, you can take steps to prevent an infection. If you think you may have a postpartum infection, be sure to see your healthcare provider right away.
What are the risks and complications of postpartum infections?
If postpartum infections are left untreated, they can lead to serious complications, such as:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Septic shock
- Pulmonary embolism is a condition that happens when a blood clot blocks an artery in the lungs.
- Maternal death
The best way to prevent these complications is to get treated for a postpartum infection as soon as possible. If you think you may have a postpartum infection, see your healthcare provider right away.