When I was pregnant, I never had a birth plan, I never got round to writing one. Instead I generally spent most of my pregnancy going to the doctor for blood tests or scans, that mostly resulted in nothing. Well, until about a month before I was due, I had an appointment telling me I had the all clear with the midwife, only to mention my itchy hands and feet, blood samples were taken, a rush into the hospital next day, pills and monitoring and being alerted that I had a disorder that affects pregnant mothers liver during pregnancy and can be potentially life threatening to my unborn child. Crazy, I was almost putting off the fact it was nothing before just saying it to a Karen, my midwife and thank God I did.
If you’re unaware, the symptom is called Obstetric Cholestasis or OC as I nicknamed it. A couple of weeks before I was due, I mentioned it to Karen and wrote a blog post about it -mainly because I never heard of it and everyone else I spoke to, including family members and an aunt who was a nurse years ago, hadn’t a clue what it was either. You can read that post here.
So, what is it?
It’s a disorder that affects your liver during pregnancy. It causes a build-up of bile acids in your body. The main symptom is itching of the skin with no visible skin rash of irritation. The symptoms improve, or in most cases, vanish when your baby arrives. It’s quite uncommon here in the U.K. hence the reason a lot of mum’s-to-be haven’t heard of it, as it’ only affects about 7 of 1000 women (less than 1%) and is more common among women of Indian-Asian or Pakistani-Asian origin with 15 in 1000 women (1.5%) affected. But if you leave it, it could affect your unborn child.
The effects on Emily was unclear. And that was pretty terrifying. But I was aware of the following:
- There is an increased chance that your baby may pass meconium (move its bowls) before being born.
- There is an increased chance of a premature birth.
- Risk of stillbirth.
When I was diagnosed, it shed a light on how little I knew could affect my unborn child. I read so many different things, I even stopped reading certain things to stop me fretting and worrying, but I hadn’t heard of OC and knowing what I did when I was diagnosed, scared the living shit out of me. I was given 9, yes 9 different pills to take daily, some up to 3x a day. Thankfully with the treatment I was receiving, we both reacted well to it and itching drastically stopped. I was constantly monitored, we both were. It was terrifying, but also I knew I was in the safest hands and anything that could go wrong, would be dealt with there and then. But all this meant, whatever birth plan I might of had or wanted, went out of the window. I would be induced, 11 days early and would be heavily monitored throughout.
Ok 9 pills sound bloody scary, along with constant monitoring and out of the window birth plans, but no one really actually follow their birth plans, and yes, you do get induced, but that means you get to see your baby a week or two before everyone else and that’s pretty cool.
So, if you’re itching like crazy and there doesn’t appear to be any rashes or some sort, whatever stage of your pregnancy, please don’t ignore it.
It’s seriously seriously important.