Obstetric cholestasis is a rare complication during pregnancy that is caused by a build-up of bile in your bloodstream. While medical professionals are unsure as to the exact cause, some believe it may be the result of hormone changes or genetics.
The condition is not something that most mums-to-be think about during their pregnancy, unless of course they are suffering from it.
However, whether you have it or are simply interested in knowing a little bit more about it, the following points will be a valuable source of information:
1. Why is it considered dangerous?
Bile is produced by the liver and flows into the intestine to help with the digestion of food. However, if you are suffering from obstetric cholestasis, the bile acid builds up which then allows toxins to enter the bloodstream.
It can increase the risk of your baby being born premature, so you will be closely monitored by your GP if you are found to be suffering from it.
2. What are the symptoms?
The main symptom is intensely itchy skin, particularly on the soles of the feet and the hands, but it can spread to other parts of the body.
However, you may also develop jaundice, dark coloured urine or pale stools. You may also suffer from lack of sleep and generally feel unwell, including a lose of appetite.
Thankfully, the symptoms tend to disappear after pregnancy.
3. How can it be treated?
It is important the condition is spotted early however, while there is a specific blood test that can help to diagnose it, it is usually discovered by a doctor through the process of elimination.
Once it is diagnosed, your doctor may prescribe medication to help with the itching or even induce you or perform a caesarean to ensure your baby is not affected by the build-up.
You can also try wearing loose-fitting clothes, applying calamine lotion to the affected area or soak in a lukewarm bath.
If you have any concerns, you should talk to your midwife or doctor.