Sometimes during a delayed pregnancy, the sensation of intense itching on the different parts of the body, mainly on the feet and hands becomes apparent. This itching sensation is called cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC).

Though the symptoms turn you profoundly uncomfortable, yet there is hardly any threat to the would-be mother to suffer from for any extended period of time. But cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC)can be unsafe for the developing baby. Doctors generally suggest premature delivery in such cases.

The word Cholestasisis the condition when the flow of digestive fluid from the liver is obstructed. Pregnancy is one of the many potential causes of this disorder. Cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC) is also called by other names: Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, jaundice of pregnancy, prurigo gravidarum.

Cholestasis of Pregnancy

What Causes Cholestasis of Pregnancy or Obstetric Cholestasis (OC)?

Nobody really knows why cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC) happens. The genetic component behind the disease can't be ruled out, because the disorder sometimes runs through the members of the family and some genetic variation are found to be allied with it.

Another source might be the pregnancy hormone. The digestive Bile that is originated in the liver helps breaking down body fats. The possibility of boosting of pregnancy hormones, as in 3-months period pregnancy, might dawdlethe usual bile flow from the liver. Ultimately, the development of digestive fluid in the liver lets the bile acid to enter into the stream of blood. It then sets down in the tissue of the expectant mother that leads to itching.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Cholestasis of Pregnancy or Obstetric Cholestasis (OC)?

The major symptom of cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC) is severe itching sensation. Almost all the women suffer sensation of itching of the hands or feet in cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC). But there are some women who feel the sensation throughout the body. The itching might be so upsetting that it might disrupt sleep at night.

The symptom of itching is very common at some stage of third three months pregnancy. But it is not true in all cases. It may set in earlier also. With the approach of date of pregnancy maturity, the condition may lead from bad to worse. Once the baby is delivered the sensation of itching vanishes within a short time.

Apart from this, there are other signs of cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC), which are not very common with every woman. Some of these are:

  • Jaundice. Where the color of the skin and whitish part of the eye turn into yellowish color.
  • Feeling nausea
  • Loss of appetite.

What are Risk Factors for Cholestasis of Pregnancy or Obstetric Cholestasis (OC)?

There are risk factors that might be responsible for the emergent of cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC):

  • A family or individual record of the cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC)
  • A record of liver ailment.
  • A twin pregnancy.

Some of the above issues are directly related to heredity. But most of them linked with misbalance of pregnancy hormone level. Once you suffer from the cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC), it might develop subsequently during the next pregnancy. Approximately half to 2/3rd women feel the repetition ofcholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC).

How the Baby of Cholestasis of Pregnancy or Obstetric Cholestasis (OC) is Affected?

According to research, 16 year old boys who were born cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC) got higher mass of body index, by up to 4 points. They possessed enhanced insulin hormone after a period of fasting. It is the symptom of Type 2 Diabetes. On the other hand, the measurement of the waist and the hip of the girls of the same age are bigger by 9cm and 5 cm respectively compared to the girl born to the other normal mother.

Compared with normal and healthy mother, the studies of other creatures like mice, other than human beings also confirms the enhancement of fats out of the interference of fat metabolism. The experts find in their researches confirm that this kind of transformation in the nutrients provided by the expectant mother is prone to disturb the balance of energy of unborn baby. It might continue even after the birth of the child. During the adulthood the metabolism might alter and give rise to ailments, like diabetes and weight issues.

Cholestasis of Pregnancy or Obstetric Cholestasis (OC) and Stillbirth

Cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC) sometimes associate with number of other ailments including premature birth of a baby, fetal distress, stillbirth or miscarriage. The cases of stillbirth might happen during the last days of pregnancy. The most tragic incident is that the expectant mother might face sudden miscarriage of her child even after she feels the kick of a newborn baby and dreaming to give birth of it very soon.

It remains a mystery why some of the babies die even after they are about see the light of the world. It is also remains a mystery whether Ursodeoxycholic Acid (UDCA) relieve pain of the itching mother and thereby bringing benefits for the baby. Some of the babies are taken out of mother's womb earlier than the prefixed date to pass up a case of still birth. But this is not supported by any concrete proof. The lack of information in this field makes it quite intricate to know ways of protecting babies.

What Tests are Conducted to Diagnose Cholestasis of Pregnancy or Obstetric Cholestasis (OC)?

The pregnancy experts confirm the existence of cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC) by conducting the following tests:

  • Asking questions in regard to medical history of the mother and other symptoms.
  • Performing a physical exam
  • Sending the sample of blood to the laboratory for testing how healthy is your liver, and measures the quantity of bile salt presence in your blood.

How is Cholestasis of Pregnancy or Obstetric Cholestasis (OC) Treated?

The treatment of cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC) seeks to ease the feeling itching and to prevent further complications.

Relieving the Itching Sensations in Cholestasis Of Pregnancy or Obstetric Cholestasis (OC)

In order to relieve the feeling of intense itching in cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC), the health care provider for pregnancy might have recommendation of the following:

  • Consuming the prescribed medication ursodiol (Actigall, Urso), which minimizes the level of bile in the bloodstream of mother, ease the feeling itchiness, and also minimizes the risk of complications for the unborn baby.
  • Soaking through the irritated areas in tepid water.

You might be lured to take an antihistamine or use an anti-itch (corticosteroid) cream to relieve the severe itching sensation connected with the condition. Antihistamines are often useless and may bear the danger of developing the baby. Once they start to work, you could avoid health care provider and delay diagnosis and treatment. Corticosteroid lotion or creams donot work to mitigate the feeling of itchiness due to cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC). Rather, the use of too much corticosteroid cream may put you in the risk of baby in the womb.

Avoiding the Complications due to Cholestasis of Pregnancy or Obstetric Cholestasis (OC)

As the complications in relation to the health of the baby can be grave and risky, close monitoring might necessary and the pregnancy care provider may suggest it during your pregnancy. Measures your doctor suggests for cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC) are:

  • No stress tests and biophysical profile scores. These tests assist in monitoring baby's well-being. During the test, the pregnancy care provider verifies how often your baby takes it movement and heart rate in any specific period of time. The biophysical report provides the details of the volume of amniotic fluid, the muscle tone and activity of the fetus. These tests could be supportive, but they never in reality calculate the risk of premature birth of child or other complications connected with the cholestasis of pregnancy.
  • Early induction of labor. Even if the normal prenatal tests, the pregnancy care provider probably puts forward for early labor early, around thirty seven weeks or so. Because of the high risk of fetal death might happen. So the early delivery is the best option to prevent complications.

What Home Remedies are Suggested for Cholestasis of Pregnancy or Obstetric Cholestasis (OC)?

Sorry to say, cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC) itching hardly responds to any of the home remedies. In order to relieve itching, you can try:

  • Warm baths, which might minimize the intensity of the itching for some women.
  • Icing the itchy areas of skin may bring relief for some time at least.

What Diet is Recommended to Fight Cholestasis of Pregnancy or Obstetric Cholestasis (OC)?

The following are some of the recommended suggestions for patients who are suffering from cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC):

  • Avoid foods with high level of fat because the bile may sooner or later leak in with your blood. More you minimize in-taking of fat, lesser will be the bile acid level in the blood stream. It might help the liver to work very well.
  • Cutting the unhealthy (saturated) fat content in the diet may decrease bile acid levels and in theory, may help the liver to work more efficiently. There are some of the tips collected from books and the internet after a thorough search.
  • It is also to be remembered; too much food restriction can result in enhancing the stress level. Always be in touch with your doctor, if you are diagnosed with the gestational diabetes as they may have before now known to you as dietary advice. Your doctor needs to see your dietary information. His approval is very important for you to continue with it.
  • For any change of your diet, it is very important to consult with your doctor. Add plenty of vegetables with deep bright pigments, and fruits to your diet.
  • Consume a fiber rich diet. Drink plenty of water.
  • Consume Essential Fatty Acids, such as Omega-6, Omega-3 and grains such as oats, wheat, rye, corn, rice, and barley.
  • Avoid eating sugar in large quantity and processed, packed food. Instead, eat sun-dried fruit, honey, and olive oil.

The specialist doctors might suggest you other foods helpful for curing the cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis (OC) very effectively.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: November 7, 2015

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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