Cholestasis Of Pregnancy: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

Cholestasis Of Pregnancy: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

18 Jan 2023 | 3 min Read

Manisha Pradhan

Author | 1053 Articles

Cholestasis of pregnancy is a liver condition that mostly occurs in late pregnancy. It can make you uncomfortable and can also cause complications for the baby. It can increase the risks of preterm birth, stillbirth or fetal distress.

However, it is a rare condition and only 1 to 2 pregnancies in 1,000 are affected by cholestasis. Most women have had a previous liver condition, and those carrying multiples or those with a family history of cholestasis of pregnancy are at a higher risk.

Causes Cholestasis Of Pregnancy

The hormones during pregnancy can sometimes affect liver function which results in stopping or slowing the flow of bile. When that happens, it causes the bile acids to build up and spill into the bloodstream. The hormones estrogen and progesterone are responsible for the build-up.

Symptoms Of Cholestasis Of Pregnancy

Some of the symptoms of Cholestasis of pregnancy are:

  • Intense itching without any rash. Itching is usually on the feet and hands usually during the third trimester of pregnancy. The itching can get worse at night and can get worse as you near your due date.
  • Nausea.
  • Foul-smelling stools.
  • Yellowing of eyes and skin.
  • Loss of appetite.
cholestasis of pregnancy
. Cholestasis of pregnancy causes itching on the feet and hands/ Image source: freepik

What Are The Dangers Of Cholestasis Of Pregnancy For The Baby?

As mentioned above, cholestasis of pregnancy increases the risks of preterm birth, stillbirth or fetal distress. The excess levels of maternal bile can cause stress on the baby’s liver. 

How Is Cholestasis of Pregnancy Diagnosed? 

A diagnosis of cholestasis can be made by doing a complete medical history, physical examination, and blood tests that evaluate liver function, bile acids, and bilirubin.

Treatment For Cholestasis Of Pregnancy

The main treatment needed for cholestasis of pregnancy is to relieve itching. It’s not advisable to tackle over-the-counter medications without consulting your doctor but some natural treatments may help to give relief to itchy skin.

  • Use a natural hand cream. 
  • A cold bath or cold pack will also help provide relief.
  • Soak hands and feet in lukewarm water.

Things To Keep In Mind

Cholestasis of pregnancy can cause complications to your pregnancy. Your doctor may recommend close monitoring of you and your baby. Monitoring may include:

  • Regular blood tests to monitor your liver function and bile serum levels and liver function.
  • A nonstress test.
  • Fetal biophysical profile to monitor your baby’s heart rate, muscle tone, amount of amniotic fluid, movement, and breathing movements.

If you have been experiencing extreme itchiness then it’s advisable to consult your doctor immediately.

Cover image source: freepik



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