Infections During Delivery

It is helpful to distinguish between infections that occur throughout pregnancy and those that occur at or around the time of delivery. The former are infections that pregnant and non-pregnant women alike can get, but that are either more frequent or potentially more serious in pregnant women.

Infections that occur at the time of delivery or in the postpartum period (period after birth) are either pregnancy-specific or a consequence of a pregnancy-related intervention. These include:

  • chorioamnionitis, which occurs in about 5 percent of women at the time of delivery;
  • endomyometritis, a uterine infection that affects about 1 to 3 percent of women who deliver vaginally. In those who deliver by cesarean section (C-section), the rate increases to 20 to 30 percent;
  • wound infections, which are relatively common after C-sections; and
  • mastitis (breast infection), which occurs in 3 to 5 percent of women who breast-feed.