Obstetric Cholestasis – ITCH ITCH ITCH!

When I was pregnant with my twin girls, my skin became very very itchy. I put it down to how much it was being stretched. It was a chat on twitter and was told to mention it to the midwife, which I did in passing. She took some blood and off I went, thinking no more of it. However the day after I got a phonecall to say I had an incredibly high reading and needed to go to the hospital where I would deliver for monitoring, talk about medication and regular blood tests

What is Obestric Cholestasis? 

Obstetric cholestasis (OC) is a potentially serious liver disorder that can develop in pregnancy. Normally, bile salts flow from your liver to your gut to help you digest food. In obstetric cholestasis, the bile salts don’t flow properly and build up in your body instead. There’s no cure for OC, but it clears up once you’ve had your baby. (Source – NHS.co.uk – link at bottom of page) it affects around 1 in 100 pregnancies. 

I was 34 weeks when I was diagnosed. ended up needing to take “urso” tablets and also piriton was given. I was told I needed to have CTG heartbeat monitoring twice a week (interesting with two babies who would never stay still! For a 10 minute tracd it often took over 2 hours!!) and a blood test to check bile levels once week to check bile levels. 

I definitely underestimated cholestasis. I thought it was just incredibly annoying as my skin was so itchy – often so itchy I had to scratch my skin with a hairbrush for relief! However It can result in early induction – I was due to deliver at 37 weeks so this fortunately didn’t affect me – but the regular monitoring was to check all was ok with baby. You need to be extra vigilant on movements with OC. 

Both my babies were born healthy and good weights and needed no medical intervention. 

A few weeks often delivery I was given a liver functioning ultrasound scan, which fortunately, came back ok. But it also has meant that I cannot use certain types of contraceptive pill which contain oestrogen as this again can trigger. I have also been told if I become pregnant again there’s a high risk of OC returning. 

I googled OC when pregnant and it said its most common to have itchy palms and soles of the feet. I didn’t have either yet it affected me. My advice would be definitely to mention it to your midwife. It’s a simple blood test to diagnose and it’s always better to check these things as it can pose more serious dangers to baby/babies. 

OC is more common in multiple pregnancies but can develop in any pregnancy. Luckily mine was in the latter stages but a girl I met in hospital had it from 26 weeks! 

The NHS website offers more detail regarding OC. If you have any doubts – always talk to the midwife 

B x

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