By posting her annoying pregnancy complaint on Facebook this mum may have unknowingly saved her unborn baby’s life.
At 35 weeks pregnant, Christina DePino took to Facebook to complain about the unbearable itching during her pregnancy. The response she received was certainly NOT what she was expecting.
Friends cautioned the pregnant mum that she may have cholestasis — a condition that affects the mother’s liver and can cause babies to die in utero if left undetected.
“What had started as an all-over itch started to become more pronounced on the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet,” DePino said. “It got to the point that I could no longer sleep at night … my arms and legs were bleeding from all the scratching.”
She turned to Dr Google to research the condition and then contacted her doctor for testing.
She was officially diagnosed with intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, and her doctor recommended her labour be induced at 37 weeks to lower the risk to her unborn daughter’s health.
“As soon as I was holding my beautiful baby girl in my arms, all I could think was, ‘What if?’” said the Michigan mum.
“What if I had not complained on Facebook? What if no one had told me? All I could think was that I had to let other women know. I didn’t want any of them to wonder what had happened to their perfectly healthy baby.”
Her warning to other pregnant women
The new mum later shared a warning on Facebook to let other pregnant women know to be aware of the symptoms. It has since been shared over 62K times.
“I would like to urge pregnant women who are suffering from severe itching to be their own advocate,” she wrote. “Know the signs and symptoms and then contact your doctor. Don’t ignore the itch, a simple blood test could save your baby’s life.”
What is Cholestasis?
Cholestasis is bile from your liver/gallbladder building up and becoming more sluggish resulting in chemical build up in your bloodstream that can deposit beneath the skin, causing terrible, terrible itching.
Dr. Donnica Moore, a women’s health expert and advocate, said cholestasis, which affects less than 1 in 100 women in both Australia and the U.S, rarely brings complications for pregnant women, but chemicals in an affected mother’s bloodstream can cause sudden death for a fetus.
The itching caused by cholestasis is not associated with a skin rash and most often begins on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet.
Women who are 35 or older, or who are pregnant with multiples, are more likely to develop the condition.
Symptoms of Cholestasis
The biggest symptom of cholestasis is itching, often on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet.
Itching is a common problem in pregnancy, affecting 23 per cent of women, but only a few of these will have cholestasis.
The itching can be worse at night. There’s no rash, although you may scratch so hard that you break your skin.
- Dark urine and poo that’s unusually pale
- Some women develop jaundice, which causes a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.
- Feeling nauseous
- Having little appetite
You’re most likely to start having symptoms of cholestasis in the third trimester when hormone levels are at their highest, or possibly late in the second trimester.
Contact your midwife or doctor straight away if you think you have cholestasis.
How do you treat Cholestasis?
The only cure for cholestasis is giving birth.
The best your doctor can do is help you cope with the symptoms. He can give you creams and possibly antihistamine tablets to provide you with some relief from the itching.
Will my Baby be OK?
Most babies are fine, and just need close monitoring. But in some cases, babies that are affected more seriously need to go the neonatal unit for treatment with oxygen, and possibly antibiotics.
The main concerns with cholestasis is that your baby may be born early. One in 10 women with OC has her baby before 37 weeks..
Sounds bloody horrendous.
Did you or someone you know suffer from this horrible condition during pregnancy? Did everything turn out OK after bub was born?