My Post C-Section Sepsis Experience

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Recognizing the symptoms of sepsis early is crucial. Left undiagnosed, sepsis can cause the immune system goes into overdrive and reduce blood supply to vital organs, which can lead to multiple organ failure or even death.

When I learned that I had to have a C-Section as my daughter was breech, I will be honest, I was sad, scared and disappointed. I had a vaginal birth with my first daughter and for my second, had set my mind on a water birth. The thought of having surgery terrified me, and whilst I finally adjusted to the change in birth plan and booked my elective C-section date, my daughter had other ideas, and I went into spontaneous labor a week earlier than planned (in the early hours of the morning)

Whilst the C-section procedure went well – a much calmer and relaxed experience than I was expecting, my recovery unfortunately did not. In hindsight I probably did too much too soon, over did it and left myself open to the risk of infection. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

After 3 days in hospital I was discharged, only to be readmitted in 3 days later, where I stayed until my daughter was 5 weeks old – 34 days postpartum. That’s 5 weeks of hospital food, missing my eldest daughter and home comforts, and an incredibly strange start to my daughter’s life.

I was one of the many women who contracted sepsis after childbirth, and I will be honest – I didn’t know much about it at all!

What I now know is that sepsis is a life threatening infection otherwise known as blood poisoning or septicemia. There are more than 1,000,000 cases of sepsis each year, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this kind of infection kills more than 258,000 Americans a year.

Recognizing the symptoms of sepsis early is crucial. Left undiagnosed, sepsis can cause the immune system goes into overdrive and reduce blood supply to vital organs, which can lead to multiple organ failure or even death.

In my case I was incredibly lucky – and am very thankful to the doctor who undoubtedly saved my life. I spent three days on an intravenous drip in a high dependency ward with half hourly observations before I returned to a normal ward. Unfortunately, the sepsis caused some complications and an edema (swelling) on my back which meant I wasn’t able to walk. As the days and weeks went by, I went from wheelchair to zimmer frame, to crutches and then slowly walking unaided. It was very painful and a very long and slow recovery.

Knowing and recognizing the signs of sepsis is so important, as sepsis can affect anyone at any age but is more common after surgery.

Here are some signs to look out for:

  • My C-section wound was very red and sore around the edges and boiling hot to the touch. Some pain after a C-section is normal, and as this was my first one I didn’t really know what to expect. It wasn’t oozing or weeping and therefore I didn’t think it was infected but in hindsight the rise in temperature on the site of the wound should have raised some alarm bells.
  • Fever – my temperature when she checked at the walk in center was over 40 degrees Celsius which is incredibly high (normally being around 37). I had experienced some chills and felt shivery and cold at home even though it was summer.
  • Racing heart / high pulse rate. My resting pulse rate was over 150 – meaning my heart was working very hard!
  • I felt extremely tired and weak – but again, I had a newborn, and therefore it was easy to blame sleep deprivation and C-section recovery.
  • Finally, and probably the most strange one is that I felt that quite simply, something wasn’t I felt so out of sorts and uncomfortable that I felt the need to go the walk in center and get myself checked as my gut instinct told me something was seriously wrong.

If you have any of these symptoms after a C-section please do go and get yourself checked. Whilst you may be busy looking after your new arrival, you need to look after yourself too!

Lucy Cotterill
Lucy is a UK-based parenting and lifestyle blogger who has also featured in the Huffington Post. A Mom of two daughters, Lucy is passionate about sharing the true reality of parenthood and helping others through their first experiences. In her free time she loves to write, go on day trips with her family and photography.

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