The causes and symptoms of the pregnancy condition obstetric cholestasis.
Obstetric cholestasis (OC) affects your liver and is said to develop when you become oversensitive to pregnancy hormones.
The exact cause isn’t fully understood but involves hormonal and environmental factors and is more likely if you have a family history of obstetric cholestasis.
You may have genetic abnormalities that affect proteins that influence your bile acid level.Bile, produced in your liver, normally helps you digest food by flowing into your intestines. If you have obstetric cholestasis, the flow of bile into the intestines slows down, causing bile salts to build up in your blood.
Itching is the main symptom of obstetric cholestasis. Itching can occur all over your body, but is usually on the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet, and worse at night. This is not always just mild irritation – sometimes it can be so bad that you can’t stop yourself from scratching it. To find out more about obstetric cholestasis, visit Obstetric Cholestasis Support.
“During my second pregnancy, I started to itch at 32 weeks. I was waiting for it, as I had been told that it was likely to reoccur.
To cope with the itching, stay in cool temperatures and don’t use too many bedclothes – that will make you hot and the itching worse. Calamine lotion can sometimes help to soothe the itching. Unfortunately, the condition can recur in a second pregnancy.
Henry Annan, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
"The doctor phoned me back and said I had to go straight to hospital as I had OC. I panicked, even though I’d had it before, as it can be so dangerous for the baby.
"I was put on medication, which quickly helped, and from then on I had to go to the hospital several times a week for blood tests and to monitor the baby’s heartbeat. I ended up having an elective caesarean at 38 weeks and my baby was fine, thankfully.”
Sally, 31, mum to Andrew, 2, and Louise, 6 weeks
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