Postpartum Infections (Puerperal Infections): Types, Causes and Symptoms

Postpartum Infections

This is the delivery of a baby that leaves a woman vulnerable to infections. This is because there may be wounds or injuries in the cervix laceration, placenta site/uterus, and vagina.

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These bacterial infections occur especially in women who had a premature rupture of membranes(PROM)or those who undergo a C-section.

Bacteria infections that develop in the surrounding area of the uterus and the uterus itself after delivery is known as postpartum infections or puerperal infections. Some postpartum infections can also affect the kidney or bladder.

Types of Postpartum Infections

There are various types of postpartum infections include;

  • Parametritis
  • Endometritis
  • Myometritis

1. Parametritis: Also called pelvic cellulitis is an infection that affects the surrounding area of the uterus.

2. Endometritis: It is an infection that affects the uterine lining. It is also called Endometrium.

3. Myometritis: This is a type of postpartum infection that occurs when fragments of the placenta remained in the uterus. Severe myometritis can result in excessive bleeding.

Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Infections

Symptoms of postpartum infections may be noticeable several days after delivery. Sometimes after leaving the hospital.
The most common signs and symptoms of postpartum infection include;

  • Fever: Occurs when the body tries to kill bacterial or virus caused by an infection.
  • Smelly vagina discharge: Is caused by an infection known as bacteria vaginosis (BV) which occurs when a certain bacteria is too much in the vagina or when you have endometritis.
  • Pain when urinating: Occurs as a result of urinary tract infection(UTI) such as pyelonephritis (a kidney infection) or cystitis(a bladder infection).
  • Pain in the pelvis or lower abdomen: This is caused by an inflammation in the uterine lining(endometritis).

Other symptoms of postpartum infection include;

  • Sepsis: Sepsis is a life threatening infection. It’s signs and symptoms include; Chills, increased heartbeat, discomfort or pain, confusion, fever.
  • Bleeding that gets worse over time: This may occur as a result of postpartum hemorrhage(PPH). Heavy bleeding after child birth.
  • Feeling pains, swelling, or tenderness in the legs especially in the calves: It occurs when blood clots deep in the body.
  • Coughing/gasping for air: It occurs when a blood clot moves from where it is formed in the body to another place. Pulmonary embolism occurs when the blood clot moves to the lungs.

Causes of Postpartum Infections

Postpartum infections mostly start from the uterus or womb. If the amniotic sac (membranes that contains a fetus) is infected then the womb or uterus can also become infected.

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Diagnosis of Postpartum Infections

Postpartum infection is diagnosed by a doctor in different ways including physical examinations(visible signs and symptoms) or laboratory tests(blood sample or urine tests).

Complications and Risk Factors of Postpartum Infections

The complications and risk factors of postpartum infections often depends on the method of delivery.

Risks

Depending on your delivery method, your chances of contracting postpartum infections differs. Women who had normal deliveries are at a lesser percentage of contracting postpartum infection.

However the categories of women who are at a greater percentage and higher risks of contracting postpartum infections include;

  • Women who delivered through a C-section: It could be scheduled or non-scheduled C-section. Those who had a scheduled C-section delivery are at a risk of 5%-15% chances of contracting a postpartum infection while those who had a non-scheduled C-section delivery are at a risk of 15%-20% chances of contracting postpartum infections.
  • Women who had vagina lacerations: A tear in the vagina during delivery can occur if your baby is big. And if this tear is not properly treated, it can be infected by bacteria which could lead to postpartum infection.

Other risk factors include;

  1. Carrying out multiple vagina examinations during labor
  2. Obesity
  3. Sexually transmitted infection such as bacterial vaginosis
  4. Prolonged labor
  5. Retaining fragments of the placenta in the womb
  6. Child birth at a young age
  7. Excessive bleeding after delivery
  8. Anemia

Complications

Complications arise when postpartum infections are left undiagnosed and treated. Some of these complications include;

  • Sepsis: Also called septic shock is a condition that occurs when bacteria enters into the bloodsteam.
  • Pelvic thrombophlebitis: A condition where blood clot is formed in the pelvic veins.
  • Peritonitis: Abdominal lining inflammation.
  • Pulmonary embolism: A blood clot that causes blockage in an artery in the lungs.

Treatments

Postpartum infections (puerperal infections) are mostly treated with oral antibiotics. Your doctor will prescribe the medication that bests suits you depending on the type of bacteria he suspects.

Some commonly prescribed antibiotics include gentamicin or clindamycin.

Prevention of Postpartum Infections

Lack of sanitation causes infections. Postpartum infections often occur when you lack proper hygiene practice, poor healthcare, and a lack of awareness from healthcare providers.

Since the type of delivery influences the risk percentage. It is important to take precautions. Especially women who have been scheduled for a C-section delivery. This will help to reduce the chances of contracting postpartum infections during a C-section delivery.

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References;

Laurence Inyang
Emmmmm... I just love reading and writing... Here to contribute my own share in making the world a better place.