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How Do You Know If You Have Cholestasis Of Pregnancy & How Early Can You Get It In Pregnancy?

Cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis is a condition of the liver that usually occurs in the third trimester of pregnancy or late pregnancy. This condition brings up an intense itching on the pregnant woman’s body, especially on feet and palms. However, it can occur anywhere on the body. The itching is more prominent and intense during the night- time.(1,3)

How Do You Know If You Have Cholestasis Of Pregnancy?

How Do You Know If You Have Cholestasis Of Pregnancy?

Severe itching is the most important symptom of cholestasis of pregnancy. The soles of the feet and palms of your hand are the commonest places where severe itching is experienced. However, you may get itching anywhere on the body. The itching is harsher at night and sometimes it is so troublesome that you can’t manage to get sleep.

Some other signs and symptoms may include nausea, loss of appetite and yellowness of the eye-whites and skin (jaundice)(1,3)

How Early Can You Get Cholestasis In Pregnancy?

The itching is common during the third trimester of your pregnancy. However, some women may get it even earlier than that. It is usually worse as you approach the end of your pregnancy. However, once the baby is delivered, it usually subsides and fades away within a few days.(1,3)

The exact cause of why cholestasis occurs in pregnancy is yet unclear. There is speculation that genes might play a role in it. Few genetic options have been identified related to this condition. Sometimes, this condition is also seen to be running in families. Some studies speculate that hormones in pregnancy may also play a role in the development of this condition. As the pregnancy reaches the due date, the hormone level also increases. Studies indicate that increased hormone levels may be responsible for hampering the flow of bile from the liver to the digestive tract. Thus, instead of traveling to the digestive tract, the bile accumulates in the liver itself. Ultimately, the bile salts arrive in the bloodstream and cause the itching, which is the primary symptom of cholestasis of pregnancy.(1)

Your healthcare provider or doctor will get some information about your medicinal history as well as your present signs and symptoms. He may conduct a thorough physical assessment. He may, likewise, arrange for a blood test to evaluate the running of your liver. The blood test would similarly help in distinguishing and estimating the level of bile salts in your blood. Every one of these factors considered together can be useful in setting up the right finding.(3)

Complications In Cholestasis Of Pregnancy

The complexities of cholestasis of pregnancy can be very serious in babies. They may cause –

  • Preterm birth or the infant is delivered too soon
  • Respiratory issues if there is meconium staining (that is, the baby passes stools before being delivered)
  • During the third trimester, there might be a stillbirth (intrauterine fetal demise) if the baby isn’t delivered early
  • The complexities of cholestasis of pregnancy can be intense, particularly for the baby. Consequently, the specialist may choose to induce labor a long time before your normal date of delivery.(1)

Prevention Of Cholestasis Of Pregnancy

There is no exact cause for cholestasis of pregnancy. As a result, it is not possible to prevent this condition from developing.(1)


If during pregnancy, there is an intense itching on the body, especially the soles and palms and the itching is more prominent and severe during the night, it might be an indication of cholestasis of pregnancy. It is usually seen during the last trimester of pregnancy or late pregnancy. However, in some pregnant women, it can be seen even earlier than that. The precise cause of cholestasis of pregnancy is not known and it cannot be prevented.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 27, 2020

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