Fourth-year medical student Belma Kamencic has been interviewing dozens of mothers about their quality of life after analyzing data from surgical site infections. (Submitted photo)

What I Did Last Summer: Cutting C-section infections with Belma Kamencic

Did you know our podcast host, Jen Quesnel, has undergone two Caesarian sections -- lifesaving interventions that deliver babies safely. She's not alone.

By Researchers Under the Scope

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Highlights from undergraduate summer research projects at the University of Saskatchewan's College of Medicine.

In Saskatchewan, roughly one quarter of mothers giving birth are doing it via abdominal surgery. More than one in three births in British Columbia are C-sections.

After avoiding driving, stairs, and lifting anything heavy for a month or so, most mothers recover smoothly.

But not all do.

In one study that analyzed C-section statistics for Saskatchewan in 2018, roughly four per cent of those who underwent the surgery discovered their incision was infected.

Belma Kamencic has spent past two summers analyzing those surgical site infections.

In this episode, the 4th-year medical student walks us through the data, and explains why she chose to interview dozens of mothers about their quality of life, after those infections.

Kamencic made sure to include questions on breastfeeding, and whether the infection affected their ability to bond with their newborns, or their own mental health and anxiety.

Most of the women she spoke with were fine. Still, Kamencic described one of those interviews as "quite jarring."

One patient described multiple return visits to the hospital, an inability to spend time with her newborn, and the experience of worry and stress after she was forced to rely on others for transportation.

"She felt very relieved to tell her story," said Kamencic. "That was a very powerful and very validating thing, especially as a student researcher."

With those experiences in mind, Kamencic worked with a multidisciplinary group including Dr. Laura Hopkins and Dr. Silken Stone Janzen, to recommend four areas of C-section patient care to improve simultaneously, using Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS).

"I didn't think that something like a C-section infection could have such large impacts," Kamencic said. "It put things in perspective.”