How to know if you have a C-section infection

How to know if you have a C-section infection

C-section infection occurs when there is a bacterial infection at the site of the surgery. It happens after a woman has had a cesarean birth. Every surgery comes with the risk of infection, and a C-section is no different. In fact, Medical News Today makes it clear that this condition is quite common. 2-15% of women who undergo cesarean section will get this infection.

c-section infection

If you have undergone C-section or planning to have this procedure, you can learn how to prevent an infection from setting in.

What causes C-section infection?

C-section infection happens when harmful microbes come in contact with the surgical wound. Staphylococcus aureus is perhaps the most common microbe that causes infections. There other types of bacteria that can also pose a problem and these are Escherichia coli and Enterococcus.

Factors that can increase the risk of post-surgery infection

Surgery comes with the risk of wound infection. Most times you can’t do anything to prevent it. However, makes it clear that there are factors that can make put a woman at a higher risk of getting C-section infection.

These factors include:

• Previous C-section births

• Long-term use of steroids, whether orally or intravenously

• Obesity

• Excessive blood loss

• Diabetes

• Diseases that compromise immunity, e.g. HIV

• Lack of antibiotics

• Lack of adequate antenatal care

• Prolonged labour or surgery

How to know if your C-section wound is infected

If you had a C-section or any other surgery, your doctor will advise you to monitor the wound for any changes. These are some of the signs that can point to a C-section Infection:

• Leg pain and swelling

• Excessive abdominal pain

• Pus discharge from the wound

• Swelling around the incision site

• Fever of above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit

• Intense pain around the surgical incision

• Smelly vaginal discharge

• Excessive bleeding with large blood clots

• Painful urination

• Drainage

Swelling, sensitivity and redness of the surgical site are natural after surgery, which is why they can’t really be an indicator of C-section infection. If you notice the other signs listed above, then you should see a doctor immediately.

c-section infection

How to diagnose a C-section infection

Sometimes doctors notice the infection before a woman is ready to leave the hospital with her baby. In these cases, the C-section infection will be treated before the woman is discharged. However, it is more common for the infection to set in after the woman has already left the hospital. That is why post-natal care and follow up visits are important.

Usually, the doctor can tell that something is wrong by

• Looking at the incision

• Checking how fast you are healing

• Tell-tale signs of infections like pus, redness, etc.

• Conducting tests for the presence of infection-causing bacteria


Once the doctor confirms that there is an infection, they may prescribe antibiotics to deal with the wound. The drugs should kill the infection and allow you to heal properly.

If pus is present, then the incision will need to be drained. Drainage happens when the doctor inserts a needle into the wound to draw out the pus. If the doctor thinks that the infection is serious, they may send a sample to the lab for tests to see what bacteria is present. This will allow them to treat the wound effectively.

Types of infections

There are two main types of C-section infection namely wound abscess and cellulitis.

• Cellulitis

Cellulitis happens due to the presence of staphylococcus or streptococcus. These types of bacteria are normally found on the skin. Cellulitis usually doesn’t have pus present in the wound, but it can cause redness and swelling of the skin around the incision.

• Wound abscess

While this kind of infection is caused by the same bacteria that cause cellulitis, in this case pus will collect in the incision and begin to ooze out. Abscess can form at the ovaries, around the incision and even nearby organs.

How to prevent C-section infection after surgery

As mentioned before, in most cases, there isn’t a lot you can do to prevent C-section infection. However, you can reduce the risk of getting it by:

• Following the wound care instruction from the hospital

• Making sure you don’t skip your antibiotics or stop taking them before you complete the dose

• Keeping the wound clean

• Finding the right way to hold your baby without disturbing the incision

• Not wearing tight clothing

• Monitoring your temperature to make sure it doesn’t exceed normal levels

• Seeking medical attention if you notice the signs of infection listed above

If you seek medical intervention early, it is possible to completely heal from a C-section infection. Normal surgical incisions can take about 6 weeks to heal. And, if the infection sets in before you leave the hospital, then you can add a few more days to your discharge date.

For moms who had been discharged before the infection, you may need to treated as an outpatient or be readmitted depending on the severity of the infection.

Resources: NHS

Medical News Today

Read Also: What it means to be a C-section mum in Nigeria

Written by

Julie Adeboye