Infections: What To Look For and How To Prevent Them
Care of your caesarian wound and prevention of infection
By Dianne Clifton, Registered Nurse and Registered Midwife, Queensland, Australia
Having a baby is an exciting time in your life. Your body has changed during pregnancy and also during the postnatal period. Your body will take several weeks to return to its pre pregnancy state.
Most women experience no problems with wound infections and this blog is to give you information to be aware of and not to alarm you.
If you have had a Caesarian section either as an emergency birth or as a planned elective caesarean there are several key things you need to be aware of to help prevent a wound infection.
When you leave the hospital you will be given detailed instructions on how to care for your wound and when and how to remove the wound dressing.
Like any surgery, a caesarian wound takes time to heal.
Your health, how much you rest, the care you take of your wound all influences how well and quickly it will heal. Careful and thorough handwashing is vital.
If you smoke, have diabetes or any other health conditions this can cause the healing process to take longer.
The wound dressing should remain in-situ until advised it be removed. You may have been given special removal wipes to help with removal. This usually occurs around 7 to 10 days. Mothers are encouraged to remove their own dressing as your public hair will have started to grow back and it can be uncomfortable having the dressing removed. If you do it yourself then you can go gently and slowly. It is best to remove the dressing after you have had a warm shower and your skin is warm and relaxed.
Once the dressing is removed, have a look at your wound. It will develop a scab as it heals and it may be itchy. Try not to touch your wound as this could cause an infection. Watch for any redness that may occur above or below the wound as this could indicate an infection.
Other signs to look for are:
- Temperature, if you have a temperature above 37.5 and feel unwell, please see your Gp
- . If your wound is oozing, serous or any blood see your GP. They will take a wound swab and commence oral antibiotics. They may refer you to see the Obstetric/Gynaecology Team for ongoing care. This may mean the need to be admitted for IV antibiotics, analgesia and bed rest. This would be discussed with you prior to any treatment commencing.
- If your wound is painful and swollen and feels different to what it has been feeling - see your Gp
Staph Aureus is the main bacteria that can cause a wound infection. Being careful with handwashing, not touching your wound and looking at your wound daily is the best way to avoid a wound infection.
Other preventative measures to avoid a wound infection are:
- Avoid lifting anything heavier than the weight of your baby. Anything heavier can cause stress on your wound and delay your wound healing.
- Wear loose high waisted cotton underwear and ensure they do not rub the wound. You can use a dry dressing on your wound to avoid it coming in contact with your underwear.
- Take care of yourself. Ensure you eat a healthy diet, get as much rest and sleep as you can and ask for help from family and friends when it comes to housework and cooking meals.
Your job is to care for your baby and yourself.
SIGNS OF SEPSIS
This is important for your partner/family to know these signs as well as you as they may notice subtle changes first.
- Change in behaviour
- Slurred speeched or confusion can be an indication of sepsis
- Extreme shivering or Muscle Pain
- Passing no urine ( in a whole day)
- Severe breathlessness or sleepiness, and you are hard to be woken
- Feeling of dread or like you are going to pass out
- Skin mottled or discoloured
Also watch for
Extreme temperature - high or very low temperature and feeling unable to be warmed
Repeated vomiting and not able to keep any fluids down
A rash that does not fade when you press a glass against it.
If you have any questions about your wound please ask your GP for their advice. If you are unwell and need urgent medical attention, and it is not when your GP is available, go to your closest Emergency Department for a medical review.
Dianne is a Registered Nurse and Clinical Midwife. She has been in this profession for over 35 years. Dianne believes it is a privilege to work with parents and families caring for their babies.