Surgery always carries the risk of infection. And there are many women that also suffer from a c section infection. These infections can be scary, and since you’re a new mom, it makes it even more difficult to properly handle motherhood.
No mother wants to be sick or have complications when they have a new baby to care for.
But, there’s little you can do to change the course of nature.
Table of Contents
- 1. What Is a C Section Wound Infection?
- 2. What Causes Higher Risk Factors of a C Section Infection?
- 3. How Is a C Section Infection Diagnosed?
- 4. How Can I Prevent an Infection?
- 5. Is a C-section Scar Infection Different Than a Wound Infection?
- 6. What’s the Recovery Time After a C Section?
- 7. Can You Breastfeed With a C Section Infection?
1. What Is a C Section Wound Infection?
You’ve been cut open – literally – and your baby was delivered in an unnatural manner. While the surgery was supposed to be routine, there’s always a chance that bacteria will grow at the site of the infection and cause a wound infection.
This wound infection occurs at the incision site.
And, there will be symptoms that alert you to the presence of an infection:
- Fever (100F+)
- Severe sensitivity
- Pain urinating
- Leg pain or swelling
- Smelly discharge
Reddening, swelling and soreness are routine, and you may feel any of these symptoms naturally after being cut open. While unfortunate, you won’t be able to use the swelling or redness as an indicator for infection with such a serious surgery.
2. What Causes Higher Risk Factors of a C Section Infection?
Even when taking the utmost care, there will always be a risk of infection after a surgery. There’s only so much you can do to prevent an infection, but there are some things that will lead to a higher risk of getting an infection, too:
- Steroid usage
- Immune system compromise (HIV)
- Lack of antibiotics
- Improper antimicrobial care prior to the incision
- Excessive blood loss
If you have an immune system that is weak or compromised, you must tell your doctor and seek antibiotic care to try and prevent an infection from occurring. You have the ability to demand an antibiotic after surgery, and I would advise taking it, too.
It’s true that an antibiotic may harm the good bacteria in your gut, and if you’re breastfeeding, the baby will also receive small doses of the antibiotic.
But an infection impedes healing and will have a far greater impact on you afterwards than an antibiotic will.
3. How Is a C Section Infection Diagnosed?
Infections are routine. Doctors see infections often, and most of the time, the infection is not their fault. Kids and adults suffer from infections. If you’re one of the lucky women that get an infection, the doctor will catch the infection before you leave the hospital.
And while no infection is a good thing, if you catch it early, the doctor will make sure the infection is under control before you get released.
Mother nature has different ideas and will cause most infections to appear after you’ve been discharged. While not a big concern, this does mean you’ll need to return to the hospital or your doctor to get examined and treated.
The doctor will diagnosis the infection by:
- Viewing the incision
- Examining for pus, drainage and other infection signs
- Testing for the presence of bacteria
In most cases, the doctor will prescribe you with a round of antibiotics which will help kill the bacteria and allow you to heal properly. But, there’s also the chance that the wound will need to be drained.
While this sounds scary, it’s nothing to worry about.
Pus should be drained from the incision, and this may require a needle to drain the pus out of the wound. If the doctor thinks that your infection is serious enough, he may recommend sending a sample of the pus to a lab for testing. The test will determine what type of bacteria is present so that precision medication can be prescribed to remedy the problem.
4. How Can I Prevent an Infection?
Your options when trying to prevent an infection are limited, but there are some things that you can do to lower the risks of infection in any case. A few of the tried-and-true methods doctors recommend to lower infection risks are:
- Follow the care recommendations of your doctor
- Take your antibiotics until the bottle is gone
- Change the dressing and clean the wound often
- Avoid wearing tight clothes that irritate the wound
- Avoid allowing skin to cover the wound (obesity)
- Take your temperature and note any changes
If an infection occurs, don’t wait to contact your doctor and move forward with treatment. You want to act now to rid yourself of the infection as quickly as possible.
5. Is a C-section Scar Infection Different Than a Wound Infection?
No. Some people will call it a scar infection, but this isn’t proper. The wound can get infected, and this occurs at the incision site – the same area where a scar will appear. Incision sites are the site of a scar, so while some people call this a scar infection, it’s not proper.
Now, if your scar is fully formed and the incision is gone and you get an infection, this would be a more appropriate time to call your infection a scar infection.
The only time this would occur is if you happened to cut open your scar and it became infected.
Could it happen? Sure. Will it happen? Not likely.
6. What’s the Recovery Time After a C Section?
You’ve had a c section, and now you’re curious what the recovery time will be. Of course, you want to get out and about again, but you also want to be able to rid your mind of the potential of an infection forming.
Major surgery, as with a c section, will heal in 4 – 6 weeks in most cases.
But, this is external healing. The scar will form, but you may still experience tenderness. There’s also a chance that you’ll take longer to heal if you had complications during the procedure. In any case, your doctor will provide you with a general recovery guideline.
Proper rest and care will make your recovery faster.
A few of the precautions you’ll need to take to boost this recovery are:
- Medication: Take the medication that your doctor recommends to speed up recovery and reduce the risk of infection.
- Avoid Exercise: Sorry Ms. Fitness, you need to avoid exercise at this time. When you exercise, you will put immense pressure on your core and could cause bleeding or complications. Strenuous activity is ill-advised. You’ll often be able to return to light exerciseafter 6 weeks and harder exercise after 6 – 9 months.
- Rest: You need rest. If you have trouble caring for yourself and your baby, ask for help. You need as much sleep and rest as you can get at this time.
- Maintain a Proper Diet: A healthy diet is recommended. You’ll also want to make sure that your fluid intake is higher to allow for a well-hydrated body.
In 6 weeks, the doctor may tell you that you can go back to the gym, but keep in mind that this is just light exercise. You should refrain from any strenuous activity for 6 – 9 months as advised by your doctor.
7. Can You Breastfeed With a C Section Infection?
This depends. A lot of doctors will advise against this practice as your body is under stress and the antibiotics will be transferred to the baby through your milk. But, every woman and doctor is different. There are plenty of women that will continue to breastfeed while taking medicine, but it’s the doctor’s ultimate suggestion that matters the most.
Some antibiotics and medications may be harmful for the baby, so this is something else you’ll need to consider.
A good rule of thumb to follow is: if in doubt, talk to your doctor. The doctor may recommend feeding your baby formula while taking the medication, or he may say that the medicine you’re taking will not have an impact on the child – a good thing to hear.
In either case, you want to do your best to err on the side of caution and listen to your doctor at all times when nursing and recovering.
Doctors always know best.