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Merck Manual

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Postpartum Infections

(Infections After Delivery)

By

Julie S. Moldenhauer

, MD, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
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Immediately after delivery, the woman’s temperature often increases. A temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher during the first 12 hours after delivery could indicate an infection but may not. Nonetheless, in such cases, the woman should be evaluated by her doctor or midwife. A postpartum infection is usually diagnosed after 24 hours have passed since delivery and the woman has had a temperature of 100.4° F or higher on two occasions at least 6 hours apart.

Postpartum infections seldom occur because doctors try to prevent or treat conditions that can lead to infections. However, infections, if they develop, may be serious. Thus, if a woman has a temperature of more than 100.4° F at any time during the first week after delivery, she should call the doctor.

Postpartum infections may be

  • Directly related to delivery (occurring in the uterus or the area around the uterus)

  • Indirectly related to delivery (occurring in the kidneys, bladder, breasts, or lungs)

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