This Is Why You Should Never Ignore An Itch During Pregnancy
There are many reasons why a woman could develop an itch during pregnancy. A mild itch could be caused by a sudden reaction to the detergent you wash your clothes with for example.
The hormones that come with pregnancy have a funny way of changing the way your body responds to so many things. Another cause could be your growing bump. Many women develop stretch marks due to their skin stretching so rapidly while they are pregnant.
One of the first signs of stretch marks can be an itch developing. While an itch can be completely normal during your pregnancy it is very important to mention a persistent itch to your GP, midwife or care team as it could be a sign of an underlying Liver issue called Obstetric Cholestasis.
Obstetric Cholestasis (OC) is a liver condition that tends to affect pregnant women during their last trimester of pregnancy. This condition is rare but can have very serious implications if it is not managed properly.
The most common symptom of OC is a persistent itch that often comes without any kind of rash. It tends to become worse at night time. The itch often begins on the soles of her feet or palms of her hands but can affect any part of the body. Other symptoms include dark urine and yellowing of the skin.
The itch usually disappears a couple of days after the pregnant woman has given birth but the underlying Liver disorder must be treated and controlled during the pregnancy to protect both mother and baby.
The official cause of OC is still relatively unknown but it may be linked to genetics as the condition can run in the family. The Liver is responsible for controlling the production and flow of bile in your body. One theory is that the hormones that rise during later pregnancy can affect the Liver’s ability to control the flow of bile. As a result, the bile acids build up in the body.
Diagnosis of OC is usually made following a series of blood tests and Liver Functioning Tests. A woman may be offered medication to help control the bile acids or to relieve the itch.
With OC the primary concern is the risk of harm to the growing baby. High levels of bile acids can be very dangerous and in rare cases has been linked to stillbirth. For this reason, the levels will be monitored carefully and your care team will let the results determine when the baby should come.
There is a very strong possibility that you will be induced at an agreed date rather than waiting to go into labour naturally. The higher the bile levels the greater the risk.
In many cases, OC is simply watched and the woman may use natural creams and regular baths to cope with the itch. She may be given a course of steroids if the baby must be delivered early. In most cases, OC comes and goes without any long-term effect on the mother or baby’s health. She is, however, more likely to have the condition on subsequent pregnancies if she has had it before.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.