Cholestasis of Pregnancy: A Must-Know Guide for Moms-to-Be
Cholestasis of pregnancy, or intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, is a liver disorder that stops or slows the flow of bile from the liver, causing intense itching, yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), and an increased risk of stillbirth. According to research, it occurs in 1-2 women per 1,000 pregnant women in the United States. Leaving it untreated can cause complications for you and your baby. Therefore, pregnant women need to be aware of the symptoms and causes of ICP to act on time.
How Does Cholestasis of Pregnancy Affect the Baby?
It can cause the following complications for the unborn:
- Fetal Distress: Your baby is unhealthy and may have insufficient oxygen levels.
- Meconium in Amniotic Fluid: Your baby may have a bowel movement before birth, resulting in serious breathing problems.
- Respiratory Problems: Your baby may have breathing problems immediately after birth.
- Preterm Birth: You may have a risk of giving birth too early.
What Are the Causes of Cholestasis of Pregnancy?
While the exact causes are not known, the following factors may contribute to intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy:
- High levels of bile acids
- Increased pregnancy hormones that slow down the flow of bile
- Environmental and genetic factors
Cholestasis of Pregnancy Symptoms
- Severe itching that begins on your hands and feet and then spreads to other organs
- Pain in the upper right side of your belly
- Decreased appetite
- Light gray or pale brown stool
- Dark urine
- Extreme tiredness
Who Is at More Risk of Cholestasis During Pregnancy?
You may have an increased risk of ICP if you:
- Have a family history of the condition
- Are carrying multiple babies
- Have liver diseases, such as hepatitis C and gallstones
- Are pregnant at 35 years or older
- Have cholestasis in your previous pregnancy
Diagnostic Procedures of Cholestasis of Pregnancy
Your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms. They may also perform a physical exam to check the severity of your itching.
Besides, the following tests may be performed:
- Liver Function Test: Measures the health and functionality of your liver and the level of bile acids in your liver.
- Test for Prothrombin Time: Checks how long your blood takes to clot.
- Ultrasound: Looks for abnormalities in the liver and the presence of gallstones.
Treatment for Cholestasis of Pregnancy
Treatment of ICP is aimed to lessen your risk and relieve your symptoms, which may include:
- Medicine: Relieves itching and lowers bile acid levels.
- Fetal Monitoring: Your doctor will check your baby for any problems.
- Early Delivery: You may be asked to deliver your baby early, between 37 and 38 weeks of pregnancy, to reduce the risk to your baby.
Besides, you can manage cholestasis symptoms by:
- Wearing loose-fitting, soft clothes
- Taking a warm bath
- Getting plenty of rest
How to Prevent Cholestasis of Pregnancy?
While you cannot prevent cholestasis during pregnancy, you can follow these points to ensure the proper functioning of your liver:
- Consult your doctor if you have a history of liver disease in your family.
- Avoid over-the-counter medications that may harm the liver.
- Schedule regular prenatal check-ups to monitor liver function and detect the condition early.
- Get tested as soon as you experience severe itching.
Get Optimal Care for Cholestasis of Pregnancy at North Atlanta Women's Care
At North Atlanta Women’s Care, we offer personalized medical assistance for cholestasis that includes medicines, professional advice and supportive care, and simple lifestyle changes. We prioritize the ongoing health and happiness of mothers and babies by offering continued pregnancy care and treatment in Suwanee, GA. Schedule an appointment today to have a well-cared and safe pregnancy and delivery.
Content Source: ALF
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