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Postpartum Infections of the Uterus


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Sep 2020| Content last modified Sep 2020
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Post means "after," and partum means "pregnancy," so postpartum refers to the time period after you have a baby. It's usually considered the first 6 weeks.

Your uterus is your womb. It's the organ where a fetus grows before it's born.

What is a postpartum infection of the uterus?

Your uterus can get infected after the baby is born. This is rare but serious.

  • Infections in your uterus can start soon after delivery

  • You'll have pain in your lower belly, fever, and a bad-smelling discharge

  • Antibiotics usually cure the infection

What causes a postpartum uterus infection?

Bacteria that normally live in and around your vagina can infect your uterus after delivery.

You have a higher risk of postpartum infection of the uterus if you have:

  • Many vaginal exams during labor

  • A long labor

  • A c-section rather than a vaginal delivery

Sometimes, doctors give you antibiotics before a c-section to help prevent infection.

What are the symptoms of a postpartum uterus infection?

Symptoms usually start 1 to 3 days after delivery and include:

  • Pain in your lower belly

  • Fever and chills

  • Generally feeling sick

  • Bad-smelling discharge from your vagina

How can doctors tell if I have a postpartum uterus infection?

Doctors can usually tell by examining you. They may do tests for other causes of pain and fever, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI).

How do doctors treat postpartum uterus infections?

Doctors admit you to the hospital and give you antibiotics by vein (IV).

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