Unfortunately some women who have had an episiotomy or perineal tear suffer from infected stitches after birth. Infected stitches after childbirth are not uncommon, but if you know the signs of infected stitches to look out for and manage to catch them early then they are fairly easy to treat. You can also help to prevent infected stitches after childbirth by keeping your perineal and vaginal area clean, changing your maternity towel regularly and remembering to wash hands before changing, as to avoid putting germs on the clean pad and as advised by health care professionals washing that area after each trip to the toilet. However if you are concerned that you might have some of the symptoms of infected stitches here’s what to look out for and what you need to do to get them treated.
The symptoms and signs of infected stiches
Many infections start off with you feeling generally unwell and tired (although most women are tired with a newborn!) so if you are not feeling quite yourself or experiencing flu like symptoms it could be a sign of infected stitches after birth. There are lots of other factors to watch out for which could also be infected stitch symptoms. Here is the Femette guide to the signs that your stitches could be infected:
- Red and swollen skin around the infected area – look out for any changes in the skin around your wound. If it looks red or feels hot to the touch it could mean there is an infection.
- Persistent pain in the perineal area – your perineal area is bound to be sore straight after you have suffered a tear or episiotomy but if you find that the pain does not seem to be improving or if it is getting worse then it could be a symptom of an infection.
- Discharge or pus or liquid from the wound – this a very clear sign of an infection in a wound.
- The wound starting to open – if the wound looks like it is not healing properly or is starting to split open this could be caused by an infection under the site of the stitches.
What should you do if you think your stitches are infected after birth?
If you have any of the signs or symptoms of infected stitches after childbirth then it is important to see your GP as soon as possible. Whilst most infections are easily treated they can spread rapidly so don’t try and deal with it yourself at home – speak to a medical professional urgently.
How to treat infected stitches
Infected stitches are usually treated by antibiotics which will clear up infected stitches after birth within a few days. Your doctor will examine the wound and prescribe the correct antibiotics, and they may also offer you some pain medication too if the infection is causing discomfort to you. In very rare instances where the infection has gone deep under the skin the stitches may need to be removed and the wound cleaned and re-stitched.
You can also help to treat infected stitches by keeping your wound clean and keeping an eye out for any further symptoms or signs of infected stitches after birth. If your infection does not seem to be healing don’t hesitate to go back to your GP as you may need a further course of antibiotics. Midwives general advice regarding healing is that pain and discomfort after the first couple of days should improve a little every day.