Postpregnancy Genital Tract and Wound Infections

Nell Tharpe, CNM, CRNFA, MS


J Midwifery Womens Health. 2008;53(3):236-246. 

In This Article


Maternal morbidity affects more than 1.7 million American women every year.[10]

Prompt recognition and treatment of postpregnancy infection is required to prevent the onset of systemic infection or localized tissue necrosis. The overwhelming majority of postpartum infections are detected following hospital discharge,[12] suggesting that directed inquiry and patient education regarding risk factors and symptoms of postpartum infection must be included as part of comprehensive, quality follow-up care of women postpartum. Establishment of objective criteria for evaluating women who present with fever or other signs and symptoms of infection has been suggested as one means to improve care.[10] Consistent documentation and reporting of postpregnancy infections are needed to improve epidemiologic evaluation of the true magnitude of this problem for women.[6]

Practitioner knowledge of evidence-based recommendations alone is not enough to change practice consistently. The development of a reproducible and accepted standard of care that includes individualized risk assessment, clinical evaluation standards, objective diagnostic criteria, and evidence-based treatment recommendations is needed. Implementation of such a standard of care would serve to improve prevention and identification of postpregnancy infections in women and reduce the associated burden of morbidity and mortality on the lives of women and their families.