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Postpartum Infections And Complications Overview

5 min read

Postnatal infections
After childbirth, a mother’s body becomes vulnerable to many infections. She is feeble and weak and needs time to recover. Endometritis or the infection of the innermost lining of uterus is the commonest infection experienced in postpartum phase of childbirth. Besides endometritis, mastitis or infection of wounds sustained during delivery and infection of urinary tract are also seen. The chances of having endometritis are increased if you have experiences prolonged labor or longer gap between membrane rupture. Even women having cesarean section are more vulnerable to have endometritis as compared to women delivering vaginally. And amongst those who deliver vaginally, those who have an assisted vaginal delivery are at a higher risk. Click here to read about C-section scar infections.

What Are Postpartum Infection(s) Symptoms

The frequent symptoms of postpartum infection are mentioned below:

  • Fever accompanied with chills and rigors, lower abdominal pain
  • Malaises
  • Foul smelling vaginal discharge (in endometrities)
  • Fatigue, muscle aches, headache
  • Warm, painful hard area round breast (in mastitis)
  • Pain and discomfort around wound area, episiotomy, or C-section incision
  • Pain and burning in urination, urgency or repeated sensation of passing urine
  • Cloudy or blood stained urine or excessive bleeding from the vagina
  • Pain around perineal region or pain during sex or coitus
  • Constipation or hemorrhoids
  • Hair loss
  • Postpartum depression
Postpartum Infection Complications

There is no second say that the entire experience of pregnancy and childbirth is unique and novel. It is overwhelming for every mom as it surely marks a milestone in her life. The arrival of your baby and the period following it is amazing. But once cannot igore the physical and mental hardships a mother undergoes in the process of birthing which leaves her at a risk of many complications.Following are some of the commonly seen complications in the post partum phase:

    • Postpartum Hemorrhage: Though some bleeding is common after delivery, but if the postpartum bleeding becomes heavy, uterus can be exposed to various kinds of infections. It is caused because of improper contraction of uterus after the removal of placenta. Postpartum bleeding is the third most prevalent cause of maternal mortality in deliveries. If the bleeding is excessive, your doctor will give you methylergometrine intramuscularly to stimulate contractions. Blood transfusion might be needed if blood loss is too much
    • Perineal Pain: The area between rectum and vagina is the perineal region. This region experiences maximum bruising and stretching during childbirth. Consult your doctor if the pain is severe or unbearable. Avoid stressing the perineal region. Use a donut soft cushion while sitting
    • Hemorrhoids And Constipation: Pain and blood discharge during defecation is also seen in the post partum phase. The situation can be cured by taking OTC (over the counter medicine). Natural laxatives and suppositories can also be beneficial. Drink a lot of water and eat fresh fruits and fiber enriched diet
    • Mastitis or engorged breasts: Mastitis is another common postpartum complication where infection can ascend from mother to the newborn via breast feeding. The treatment of mastitis includes administration of antibiotics and symptomatic medicines
    • Uterus Infection: When fragments of remains of placenta are left in uterus, infection can affect uterus. The placenta is expelled by the uterus within 20 minutes of delivery, however, in the event this does not happen, retained placenta can result in uterine infections. Uterine infections

postpartum infections

  • Postpartum Depression: This is yet another complication of postpartum. The new mothers become overwhelmed and constantly feel anxiety. Psychiatric counseling and anti-depressive drugs can improve the condition
  • Puerperal Cystitis: During delivery there is stretching of urinary bladder. This can result in oedema of trigone of bladder or obstruction of urethra. This can lead to retention of urine. The insufficient evacuation of bladder can lead to accumulation of residual urine in the bladder. This causes cystitis a painful condition
  • Kidney Infections: Infection can ascend from the bladder to the neighboring kidney. The common symptoms of kidney infection are strong desire to urinate, high grade fever, malaise, pain in low back, painful or burning urination and constipation
  • Sexual Discomforts: Sex life may be resumed after the vaginal tissues have been healed (after about 4-6 weeks) in case of a vaginal delivery and in case of a c-section delivery, 6 weeks should be the time that you can have sex again. However, if the intercourse is physically discomforting, and/or painful, you may wait for 3-6 months. Some women feel uncomfortable with their bodies after giving birth while some feel that their desire for sex has gone down. These issues are temporary and can be resolved through medical and your partner’s support
  • Pulmonary emboli: The condition is characterized by presence of sudden intense chest pain, pallor, cyanosis, dyspnoea, raised jugular pressure, hypotension, confusion, hemoptysis and sudden apprehension
  • Puerperal Psychiatric Disorder: Presence of mental health hazards in the puerperium phase can be a serious complication
  • Bipolar Disorder: BD is quite common to postpartum depression. The common symptoms of bipolar disorder are
    • Decreased desire for sleeping
    • Grandiosity
    • Distractabiltiy
    • Psychomotor agitation
  • Schizophrenia: It is a rare complication of postpartum phase and is common if the mother has some difficulty in coping with her obligations. It is usually common in young and adolescent mothers
Postpartum Infection And Breastfeeding

Mastitis or inflammation of breast accounts for 10 percent of all the postpartum infections seen after childbirth. Sore nipples and improper hygiene can precipitate mastitis. The presence of mastitis can be diagnosed by tenderness in breast and is associated with malaise and fever.
The doctor will advise you antibiotics for Staphylococcus aureus (cephalexin, dicloxacillin, etc.) Breastfeeding can be continued in mastitis and usually does not pose any threat to the newborn. If left untreated mastitis can lead to breast abscess. If this happens, surgical drainage of the abscess becomes mandatory. Read more about MASTITIS here.

Postpartum Infections Treatment

The treatment of postpartum infection varies according to the underlying type of postpartum infection. However treatment from the doctor is a must as untreated infections can result in serious problems. In the event of any symptoms of postpartum infections (as listed above), seeking the advice of your doctor is important. Never try to self-diagnose and self-medicate. In most cases of postpartum infections, oral antibiotics are advised, however, in few cases, intravenous medicines or other treatment is advised. For mastitis and cystitis infections, depending upon the type of invading infectious agent, suitable antibiotics are advised by the doctor.
With treatment, you will start to feel better. If on antibiotics, you must complete the course and continue to take medical advice till the symptoms do not go away. Keep up in good mental shape, have a positive attitude, drink lots of water and take plenty of rest. The cozy moments with your child will help you heal faster and better.

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