The first step to developing a universal infection control protocol is awareness.
A new mother and a newborn child are both at risk for infection. Every day, approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, and 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries.
Under such circumstances, it is very common for new mothers to not know how to avoid infection in themselves and their newborns.
Let us understand different types of infections that may crop up during pregnancy and delivery. And how you can actively prevent them.
1. When you are pregnant, take adequate care to avoid infection through mosquito bites. Illnesses such as malaria and dengue can be very hard to deal with in pregnancy as they can make you weak, not to mention the new threat of Zika. Good mosquito nets and repellents are the way to go.
2. To avoid internal infections, never consume raw meat and eggs. Raw meat can host tapeworms, and raw eggs can spread a dangerous bacterium called Salmonella.
3. Washing your hands thoroughly with soap after any outdoor activity like gardening, or after touching your pets, or at the mall or a restaurant, is an important aspect of infection control.
4. If you have an older child who needs a diaper change, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap afterwards.
5. Post-delivery, the stitches after a C-section or an episiotomy may become infected. Warning signs are localized redness and pain. The only way to prevent these infections is to use the prescribed course of antibiotics diligently, and to keep the stitches and wound clean.
6. Mastitis is a condition that sets in when bacteria enter your milk ducts, either due to a clogged duct or from the baby’s mouth when feeding.Applying warm compresses to the breast whenever it isn’t emptied fully helps unclog the ducts and prevent infections. Also, ensuring that the baby latches on properly can help prevent mastitis.
7. The cleanliness of your surroundings matters when it comes to “nosocomical infections, i.e. infections acquired in a hospital. There should be an established hospital infection control protocol. Hospital sheets need to be changed every day for both you and your newborn. Ask the hospital administration to sanitize your room thoroughly if you feel there is any discrepancy.
8. Strict personal hygiene is one way to prevent infections in both you and your baby. Ensure that you change your sanitary napkins regularly, and ask for fresh hospital gowns whenever you need to change. For the newborn, learn how to properly wipe them down after a ‘potty’ and how to keep them clean overall. This reduces the risk of a diaper rash, skin infections and UTIs.
9. Some new moms may experience a UTI, or a Urinary Tract Infection, because the muscles in the abdomen are now unable to empty the bladder effectively. In such cases, know that it is temporary, and that the problem can be resolved. Seek medical help for a UTI. To prevent it, have lots of fluids, and use the bathroom as often as possible.
“Prevention is better than cure” was never more apt than in case of infections!
Did you experience any infections during pregnancy/delivery? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and be featured on our website!
- 10 Tips for Preventing Infections Before and During Pregnancy, Centres For Disease Control, 2017
- Mastitis, Mayo Clinic.
- Chabbra Shakuntala, Shivkumar Poonam Varma, Bhalla Ritambara. Quality of postpartum care. J Obstet Gynecol India Col. 56, No. 2: March/ April 2006.