The terrible pregnancy itch you should never ignore

Posted in Pregnancy Complications and tagged .

Pregnant mum scratching her belly

Itching during pregnancy is quite common; however, sometimes it can be a sign of something much more serious.

A mother in the United States has opened up about her experience with cholestasis of pregnancy – a condition that starts with an itch and can have devastating consequences for an unborn child if not treated properly.

The power of mother’s intuition … and social media

Christina DePino cholestasis pregnancy itch
At 35 weeks pregnant, Christina DePino began to experience an all-over itch. After being unable to sleep from the pregnancy itch, Christina did what many expectant mums do when they have a problem – she turned to Facebook for help.

Her question about pregnancy itch led three friends to warn it might be a very serious but rare pregnancy-related disease known as cholestasis of pregnancy.

Christina’s friends were right and the mum-to-be was diagnosed with intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy. Christina’s doctor induced her at 37 weeks to lower the risk to her unborn baby.

Christina and her husband, Aaron, welcomed Lexa Rae, a healthy baby girl. Their little sweetheart may not be alive if Christina didn’t act on her instincts and the advice of her Facebook friends.

Don’t ignore the itch

Christina penned another Facebook post shortly after the birth of Lexi to warn other mothers about this potentially life-threatening pregnancy itch.

The post has been shared over 61,000 times and has helped raise awareness for this relatively unknown disease.

What to be aware of

Cholestasis of pregnancy is a condition that affects the liver, usually in the last trimester of pregnancy. It can be diagnosed through a blood test.

It’s harmless to the mother, but chemicals in the woman’s bloodstream can cause complications and even sudden death for a foetus which is why many doctors will induce an expectant mother as soon as it is safe.

Cholestasis of pregnancy or PUPPP?

Although cholestasis usually causes severe itching of the skin it is not a skin rash. If you have developed severe itching as well as a rash, then it may be PUPPP, another pregnancy-related condition.

Obstetrician gynaecologist Dr Charlotte Elder tells Mum’s Grapevine, that with PUPPP, “there’s often a clearly definable rash that you can see that’s itchy. Whereas with cholestasis of pregnancy there tends not to be a rash and it tends to be an itch that starts on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet”.

Regardless of the cause behind the itch, Dr. Elder advises all women experiencing a severe itch to contact their midwife or doctor.

Christina Depino suffered cholestasis of pregnancy

New mum Christina echoes this advice. She urges all pregnant women to “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.”

While being aware of things that can go wrong during pregnancy can sometimes lead to unnecessary worry, it can also potentially save your baby’s life. Don’t be afraid to raise your concerns with your doctor or midwife.

Lexa Rae DePino pregnancy itch risks to baby

Have a look at some of the other pregnancy related conditions that you may not have heard of.


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