The vast majority of women will experience some degree of itching during their pregnancy, thought mainly to be due to the increased levels of hormones circulating your body. However, in some cases itching can be a sing of a more serious condition called Obstetric Cholestasis.
Sometimes referred to as Intrahepatic Cholestatsis of Pregnancy ICP this liver condition is a build up of bile acids that do not flow correctly in pregnancy and build up in the system. In severe cases of ICP where the bile acid levels raise above 40µmol/L the risk of still birth is said to increase from 0.4 in every 100 births to 1 o 2 in every 100.
Given this increase you may be offered induction of labour a little earlier and will be advised to have your baby in hospital. During labour your baby would be continuously monitored on the Cardotocograph (CTG) machine to ensure that all is well.
There are some creams such as aqueous cream which can relieve the symptoms and you may be prescribed a drug called Ursodexochloric Acid which can help to reduce the itching and bile acid levels.
If ICP is confirmed you will be offered regular blood tests to check your liver function and bile acid levels. If these levels become too high you may be advised to have an induction of labour.
Symptoms of ICP are often worse on hands and feet and often seem heightened at night. You must speak to your midwife if you are suffering from significant itching.