Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP) is a liver disorder. It affects the normal flow of bile, which results in itching that can vary in severity and type. ICP is rare – in the US it affects between 1-2 in 1,000 pregnancies.
“I was 36 weeks pregnant with my second child. I didn’t feel very well, always exhausted and itchy, but I thought nothing of it, after all I already had an 18-month-old boy with boundless energy.
I told myself baby number two was always different because you can’t put your feet up whenever you want. Then I went for my obstetrician appointment.
This appointment was different because my husband was able to come with me. We sat down and my doctor asked (as he always did): “How are you feeling?”. I gave my usual response: “Good, except for the usual pregnancy ailments”. My husband however told the obstetrician that I wasn’t sleeping, was always exhausted, and was itchy all over.
Here started my Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP) journey.
I was immediately admitted to the hospital as an outpatient, and blood tests were ordered. I spent eight hours at the hospital that day, as my and my baby’s health were thoroughly checked.
The next week was one of the hardest I have ever been through. I didn’t understand what was happening, I had no idea what ICP was or how it would affect the little girl I was carrying, and on top of this I had to hold it together for my son.
I googled ICP and what I found sent shivers down my spine. ICP can result in premature delivery, fetal distress and stillbirth. I didn’t want my baby to die, so I focused on her movement. I spent almost every day in hospital, only going home at night. Then on 22 June the doctors told me that I needed to be induced.
At 37 weeks and 2 days my beautiful little girl Gemma was born. The itching stopped, and I finally got some sleep.
I felt so lucky. Before my diagnosis I had never heard of ICP, and if my husband hadn’t been at my obstetrician appointment I would have continued to put my symptoms down to general pregnancy issues.
Three years later I had another ICP baby (ICP carries a 90 per cent chance of reoccurring). This time I was prepared, and it was therefore a very different experience. I found a website called “Itchy Moms” that told me everything I needed to know about the condition. I was well informed and knew the symptoms I was looking for. My doctor and I had a plan in place, and in my mind my baby was always being delivered at 37 weeks.
My second daughter is now a beautiful, happy two-year-old.
I have been lucky, but there are mums out there who haven’t been. They have lost their babies because of ICP. I urge you that if you have a partner, friend or even an acquaintance that is experiencing an itch during pregnancy, let them know to tell their doctor.
Don’t ignore an itch during pregnancy, it can kill.”
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please seek the advice of your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.