Cholestasis of pregnancy is a liver problem. It slows or stops the normal flow of bile from the gallbladder. This causes itching and yellowing of your skin, eyes, and mucous membranes (jaundice). Cholestasis sometimes starts in early pregnancy. But it is more common in the second and third trimesters. It most often goes away within a few days after delivery. The high levels of bile may cause serious problems for your developing baby (fetus).
Doctors don't know what causes cholestasis of pregnancy. They do know that this happens:
The main symptom of cholestasis of pregnancy is severe itching. This is sometimes called pruritus. It may be all over the body. But it is more common on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It may also be worse at night. Other symptoms may include:
The symptoms of cholestasis sometimes look like other health conditions. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your healthcare provider is likely to think you have cholestasis of pregnancy if you have severe itching. Lab tests will help to confirm the diagnosis. You may have these tests:
You may also have other tests such as an ultrasound exam of the tubes that carry bile (bile ducts).
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:
The goals of treating cholestasis of pregnancy are to relieve the itching and prevent complications. Treatment may include:
There is a serious risk of complications in your developing baby if you have cholestasis of pregnancy. The complications include:
Cholestasis of pregnancy can also lead to vitamin K deficiency. This will need to be treated before you give birth, because it can cause you to bleed more than is safe.
Call your healthcare provider if you have:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider: