Before You Check In
If your hospitalization is prescheduled, heeding these tips before you go will lower the likelihood of infection while you're there.
Bug the surgeon. Surgeons know their infection rate for each of the procedures they perform. Don't be afraid to ask about a surgeon's infection rate for your procedure. Choosing a surgeon with a low infection rate could save your life.
Get tested. Ask your doctor to test you for MRSA, a potent strain of bacteria that shrugs off all but the most powerful antibiotics. You might be carrying it in your nose or on your skin. It generally won't make you sick unless it gets inside your bodyusually via a catheter, a breathing device, or a break in the skin such as a surgical incision. A simple nasal or skin swab will tell the tale. If you test positive for MRSA, precautions can be taken, including giving you the correct antibiotic before surgery.
Debug yourself. Begin showering daily with chlorhexidine soap five days ahead of a scheduled surgical procedure. The soap, available without a prescription, helps remove bacteria lurking on the skin, waiting to invade an incision. Remember that a cesarean delivery is surgery, too.
Snuff the smokes. Smoking hampers circulation in the body, impeding infection-fighting blood cells. Patients who smoke are three times as likely as nonsmokers to become infected at the site of their surgery. Cut down. Better still, quit, at least for a while.