Obstetric cholestasis (OC), also called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP), is a potentially serious liver disorder that can develop in pregnancy. Normally, bile salts flow from your liver to your gut to help you digest food. In obstetric cholestasis, the bile salts don’t flow properly and build up in your body instead.
Cure: There’s no cure for OC, but it clears up once you’ve had your baby.
Hereditary: It seems to run in families, although it can occur even if there is no family history. It is also more common in women of Indian and Pakistani origin. If you have had OC in a previous pregnancy, you’re more likely to develop it again in a subsequent pregnancy.
Risk: There is risk of premature birth or stillbirth. Because of the link with stillbirth, you may be offered induction of labour or a caesarean section after 37 weeks of pregnancy.
- Severe itching all over your body, usually without a rash & most commonly in last 4 months of pregnancy. Some women get severe rash, for some it is unbearable or non-stop.
- Other symptoms include dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes) and pale bowel movements (poo).Treatment:
OC is diagnosed by liver function tests (LFTs). Once diagnosed, you will have regular LFTs until your baby is born, so that your doctor can monitor your condition. If your LFTs are normal and you continue to have severe itching, the LFTs may be repeated every week or two to keep an eye on them.
Creams, such as calamine lotion, are safe to use in pregnancy and can provide some relief from itching. There are some medications that can reduce bile salts and ease itching, but it’s not known whether they are safe to take in pregnancy.
Because OC can affect your absorption of vitamin K, which is important for healthy blood clotting you may need to take vitamin K supplement.