Cholestasis of pregnancy

Full disclosure: I am not a doctor and I’m just sharing my experience and the research I did about cholestasis when I had it with my first baby.

I had cholestasis with my first pregnancy three years ago. I was completely unfamiliar with it and since it didn’t show till ten days before my baby was born, I didn’t really had time to process it before our baby was born. All I know is they were the longest ten days of our lives.

I had to be monitored every three days and the doctor recommended induction at 38 weeks to minimize the risk of stillbirth. Can cholestasis cause stillbirth? Yes, unfortunately it can.

In the end, I gave birth to a very healthy girl one day before the date I was going to be induced. I’ve always thought my body knew and that’s why Mar arrived at 38 weeks minus one day 🙂

Young pregnant woman holds her hands on her swollen belly. Love
Designed by Valeria_Aksakova / Freepik

 

What is cholestasis of pregnancy?

It’s a condition that usually develops in the third trimester of pregnancy – in my case on week 36 – when the hormones are at their peak. Also known as  Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP), is a condition in which the normal flow of bile is affected by the increased amounts of pregnancy hormones.

Cholestasis is a liver disease and as such, although it wasn’t my case, it can cause jaundice and produce a yellowish tone on mom’s skin and white of her eyes.

Usually, cholestasis will go away a few days after giving birth.

Symptoms of cholestasis of pregnancy

All of a sudden my palms and the soles of my feet started itching. Like a lot. At first I thought it was the extra weight, or the heat, or just the general discomfort of the latest weeks of pregnancy. But at some point the itchiness became more annoying and I decided to ask my doctor.

Good thing I did because after testing my bile acids they found out I had cholestasis of pregnancy. Once diagnosed, I got on meds which helped control the itchiness.

I had cholestasis during my first pregnancy, how likely is it that I have it again with my second?

I’ve been told there’s nothing really you can do to prevent it. If you’ve had it or if it runs in your family, you’re likely to have it again. With my second pregnancy, my doctor said I had 70% chances of developing cholestasis again. I was all ready for it this time. Wait, or maybe I wasn’t.

At first, I was like ‘should we not try to have another baby?’. The first time I had a normal pregnancy without too many ups and downs and didn’t worry about cholestasis because I didn’t even know what it was. However, the second time I would know of this possibility from day one. We thought about it and decided to try anyway, both my husband and I were on board. Once we found out we were pregnant again, my doctor requested enough blood tests to make sure we’d detect it on time in case it appeared again. Only in the third trimester, I think we tested my bile acids three or four times.

In the end it turned out I didn’t get cholestasis of pregnancy the second time around.

To be honest, my second pregnancy was pretty different from the first one. For starters, we had a toddler, and she wouldn’t take a no for an answer when she wanted to play or be carried in our arms. I had less nausea but way more mood changes so, all in all, I didn’t have much time to worry about cholestasis until the end. And by then, we were constantly doing blood tests which were coming back negative so, no reason to worry about.

*****

Cholestasis is not such a common thing to have so if you’ve had it and feel like sharing, please do in the comments and hopefully we can at least give some support to families going through it.

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