Since time immemorial, wounds and infections have been known to occur in pregnant women after parturition. Wound infection can result in increased discomfort and maternal morbidity in recently delivered mothers (2007, Fox). Wounds could result from tears in the perineum during parturition, instrumental deliveries, episiotomy site and surgical wounds after a caesarean section to deliver the foetus. Oftentimes, these wounds may become infected, causing puerperal pyrexia in the patients. Other forms of infections include; Genital tract infection, Urinary tract infection, upper respiratory tract infection and mastitis. Group A beta-haemolytic streptococci, Escherichia coli, Proteus spp, Staphylococcus aureus, klebsiella spp, Clostridium welchii and other anaerobes have been implicated. The signs of infection from wound sites include; fever, which could be high or low grade, increasing pain at the site of the wound, inflammation at the wound site and purulent discharge from the site.
Wound healing is influenced by several factors. Some aid wound healing while some are antagonistic to wound healing. The older an individual, the slower wounds get to heal. Also, obese patient's wounds do not heal quickly, likewise smokers and those on immunosuppressive drugs like corticosteroids and radiation therapy. Non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, wound infection, anaemia, malnutrition and debilitating diseases like diabetes mellitus, HIV and AIDS and other forms of cancers delay wound healing. Good nutritional status, a clean wound, adequate blood supply to the wound site, presence of Vitamin C, essential and non-essential amino acids in the form of proteins, zinc and immobilization all aid wound healing. The roles of midwives in postnatal infection and wound healing cannot be overemphasized. Midwives counsel the patients about the care of their wounds. Patients are told about maintaining strict hygienic practices such as washing their hands always, not to touch the wound sites and if they do, their hands must be washed before and after, they should not douche, stitches should be kept clean and dry, regular changing of sanitary pads, wiping from front to back and usage of sanitary pads and not tampons during the peuperium. (eHow, 2012)
In conclusion, postnatal wound care and infection needs to be aggressively tackled to reduce the attendant morbidity and mortality associated with it to enable the parturient and her family enjoy and savour the joy of motherhood for a long time.
(2007) D.Gould Ceaserean section, surgical site infection and wound management Nursing Standard, Vol 21, No 32
(2012) A. Fox Postnatal wound care in the community http://www.inmo.ie/MagazineArticle/PrintArticle/9273
(2012) D. Thiery Postpartum Care for Perineal Laceration http://www.ehow.co.uk/way_5607307_postpartum-care-perineal-laceration.html
(2012) Postnatal Care HEAT Module http://labspace.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=452792§ion=1.4.4
(2012) Peuperial pyrexia http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/Puerperal-Pyrexia.htm