Very few women are affected by chorioamnionitis, but research has suggested that it is the cause of 40% of premature births.


What is chorioamnionitis?

Women have natural bacteria in their skin and vagina, although these bacteria are normally harmless, they can sometimes travel to areas where they can cause a problem.  If an infection enters the womb it can cause the foetal membranes that surround the baby to become inflamed and infected.  This is known as chorioamnionitis.  If the infections travels to the umbilical cord it is called funisitis.


Am I at risk?

You are more likely to be affected by this type of infection if:

  • Your waters break a long time before delivery
  • You have a long labour
  • This is your first labour
  • You have needed several vaginal exams
  • You receive an epidural during labour
  • You have group B Strep
  • Smoking and alcohol can be a trigger
  • You have a vaginal infection
  • You have a sexually transmitted infection


How can I tell if I have chorioamnionitis?

The symptoms of chorioamnionitis can vary for each person and some women may mis-diagnose the symptoms.  Signs that you have chorioamnionitis may include:

  • Fever
  • Fast heartbeat in the mother
  • Fast baby’s heartbeat
  • Painful or sore uterus
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Breaking of the waters
  • An unpleasant smell from the amniotic fluid

If you are worried that you have any of these symptoms you should tell your midwife or doctor who will be able to examine you.


What happens next?

Your midwife or doctor will ask you about your health and give you a physical examination.  If your waters have broken, a sample of your amniotic fluid may need to be tested.

Most women with chorioamnionitis require antibiotics to help the infection.  In some cases, they may be advised to deliver their baby early, but this will only be discussed if it is safe and the best option for both mother and baby.

You should speak to your midwife or doctor if you have any concerns about infection or chorioamnionitis during your pregnancy.


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