Pregnancy related complications are mostly dependent on factors surrounding your individual health. If you are pregnant, there would be a lot of questions in your mind about the various health issues that can come up. There is no need to panic, especially as few of the conditions are entirely treatable, regardless of the risks they carry.
It is useful to understand more about obstetric cholestasis or intrahepatic cholestasis, a complication that arises in few pregnant women. The sooner you know all about cholestasis, the faster you can report the symptoms to your doctor and get timely treatment.
What Is Obstetric Cholestasis?
Also referred to as intrahepatic cholestasis or OC, cholestasis affects the liver functioning in pregnant women.
- It occurs mostly in women who are extremely sensitive to the production of pregnancy hormones in their body.
- Usually, the bile produced in liver flows via bile ducts into the intestines where it aids in food digestion.
- Sometimes the flow of bile is reduced during pregnancy, as a result of which the bile salts that are left out pile up in the blood stream.
- The clogging of bile in blood causes cholestasis.
Obstetric Cholestasis Symptoms:
Below are the main symptoms that indicate the occurrence of OC in pregnancy:
- Frequent itching in hands and soles of feet that worsens during the night time
- Skin bleeding due to extreme scratching of hands and feet
- Jaundice in few cases
[ Read: Rashes During Pregnancy ]
Who Is At Risk Of Obstetric Cholestasis In Pregnancy?
Women with below mentioned factors are more prone to develop OC disorder during pregnancy:
- Family history of cholestasis
- Genetic predisposition
- Women hailing from parts of Europe with Caucasian skin
- Other lifestyle related conditions
Obstetric Cholestasis Diagnosis:
Once you identify the symptoms of OC, you will have to report the same to your doctor. The below tests will then be performed to confirm a diagnosis:
- Confirmation that itching is not due to stretching of skin, a common aspect of pregnancy.
- Blood tests that include bile acid test and liver function test.
- Ultrasound scans to check for gallstone formation. As a result of bile accumulation in the bile ducts and blood.
- Checking for the frequency and intensity of itching sensation and body parts where itching is more prominent.
[ Read: Itching During Pregnancy ]
Obstetric Cholestasis And Effects On The Baby:
Studies state that women who develop obstetric cholestasis are at a15% greater chance of having a still born delivery.
- The reasons for the same are still unknown, although few practitioners think that this is mainly due to bile acids that cross the placenta and affect the growing baby.
- Few studies also state that cholestasis cuts off the oxygen supply to the baby inside the womb because of the infected placenta.
[ Read: Chance Of Having A Still Born Delivery ]
Treatment For Obstetric Cholestasis:
The treatment given by doctors ensures that prophylaxis has a two-fold effect.
- To reduce the itching and the spread of cholestasis.
- To avoid the risk of stillbirth during pregnancy.
Your practitioner will prescribe the below to treat OC:
- Urodeoxycholic acid is given to eliminate itching, restore the liver functioning back to its normalcy.
- Steroids in case of extreme cases of cholestasis. The administering should be done carefully by your doctor.
- Vitamin K supplements to manage blood clotting, which is usually lost due to bile salts absorbing all the Vitamin K from the diet.
- Vitamin K also prevents the chances of stillbirth and bleeding during pregnancy.
- Baby will be delivered earlier than due date as soon as his lungs are developed. This is to avoid the possible complications of stillbirth with progressing pregnancy.
- Pregnant women are induced between 35 to 38 weeks, as soon as the baby is viable to survive outside. This is because the risk of stillbirth increases if the pregnancy is continued to 40 weeks.
[ Read: Itching On Stomach During Pregnancy ]
12 Measures To Cope With Itching During OC:
The itching is going to be almost unbearable once there is an indication of cholestasis. Avoid the tendency to scratch. The more you scratch, the worse will it get.
Few measures followed at home could help you cope with the severe itching:
- Eat a healthy diet (cut down on oily and fatty foods).
- Apply calamine lotion on the itchy areas.
- Applying creams containing extracts of calendula and chamomile. These are said to reduce itching and redness caused during OC.
- Use mild soaps and detergents.
- Opt for mild bath shower gels instead of heavy perfumed ones containing harsh formulations.
- Avoid taking hot water baths.
- Stay away from hot and humid weather conditions that intensify itching.
- Wear light colored loose cotton clothes to let your body breathe.
- Take naps whenever possible as you will tend to suffer from insomnia during nights.
- Try alternative homeopathic medicine that offers support to stabilize liver functioning.
- Try and divert your mind from the problem. Focus on spending time with loved ones as this is your happy pregnancy.
- Follow instructions from your doctor carefully.
[ Read: Insomnia During Pregnancy ]
Post Labor And Childbirth – Measures You Must Know:
Once your baby is delivered, there will be series of measures taken by your doctor to ensure the safety of both you and your little one:
- Your baby will be given a Vitamin K injection to protect him or her from bleeding.
- A follow up liver function test will be done on you after 6 to 12 weeks of delivery. The test is performed to check the health of your liver and rule out the presence of OC.
- An ultrasound scan is done to rule out any gall stone formation, just in case.
- Your doctor will advise you to stay away from contraceptive pills that contain estrogen. You may have to opt for other forms of birth control measures.
Cholestasis And Future Pregnancies:
If you have suffered with OC during your first pregnancy, there is a 60 to 80 percent chance that you will be affected by the same complication in your future pregnancies as well.
- Dealing with a condition like cholestasis can be exhausting, scary and troublesome.
- Understand that this is curable and manageable.
- With strict precautions and treatment, you will be able to pull yourself and your baby out of the issues surrounding OC.
- It is important to be conditionally happy while you are pregnant, as your anxieties may affect your growing baby.
- Talk to your gynecologist to understand more about obstetric cholestasis today.
Hope the information on intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy proves useful to you. Do share your views with other readers on the same in the comment box below.
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