Have you ever been itchy during pregnancy?  The normal itch of dry, stretching skin during pregnancy is nothing compared to the deep itch and burn ones experiences when they have ICP.

When I was around 36 weeks pregnant, I began feeling extremely itchy, to the point where I was unable to sleep at night.  My poor arms and legs had scratches all over them.  Basically it feels like an itch that no amount of scratching will fix.  It’s so itchy it almost burns.  And it doesn’t matter what you do, it won’t go away.

After researching this online I knew it was what I had.  There was not a doubt in my mind.  Unfortunately, the nurse I spoke to at my doctor’s office, brushed it off as normal itchiness during pregnancy.  When I wasn’t satisfied with her answer, I researched more and decided to call with a specific set of symptoms, knowing they would take me serious.

On the second call, I spoke to an older nurse who immediately said my doctor would want a blood test done, but she would call back to let me know for sure.  And when she called back she told me my doctor did in fact want a blood test done.  It was a Friday, so I knew I would be waiting all weekend for the results.

I received a call from my doctor on the way to her office on Monday morning.  This was not normal because they usually have a nurse call to give results.  She wanted to see me immediately.  After my scheduled ultrasound, I was taken into a room where my doctor was waiting for me.

My baby wasn’t moving much, but it was normal for the time of day, he usually was sleeping in the morning and awake at night….this lasted until he was about 4 months old lol.  My doctor strapped on a heart monitor and grabbed a weird instrument used to get the baby moving.  It was some vibration that makes the baby jump, and oh boy did he jump.

She went over the blood test results with us and said, “we’re inducing you this week”.  She saw the surprise on our faces but said no need to worry, but with ICP they don’t let you go past 37 weeks and at this point I was just at 38 weeks.

I was lucky enough to give birth to a beautiful, 8lb 5oz baby boy the following Friday.

ICP is something I had never heard of until I began researching itchiness during pregnancy.  This isn’t something I read about in any of my pregnancy books, or on any of the pregnancy websites.

What symptoms are associated with ICP?

  • itching
  • pain in the right upper quadrant
  • dark urine
  • pale stool
  • lack of appetite
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • jaundice
  • mild depression

(ICPCare.com)

Itching is the biggest symptom you will notice with ICP.  And it’s not any normal itch, it was only in my hands and feet, but it can be felt anywhere (ICPCare.com 2017).  In addition, it’s different because you don’t have a rash, there’s nothing there that appears to be causing the itch.  I’ve read that it often gets worse at night, which was certainly the case for me (ICPCare.com 2017).

If you notice any of these symptoms during pregnancy, please call your doctor.

There are many risks associated with ICP, the risk that scared me the most was stillbirth. I was constantly counting kicks, movements, everything.  Especially after my doctor confirmed it was ICP.  That week I barely slept at all because I only cared about the movements of my baby.  Other risks include, meconium staining, preterm labor and delivery, fetal distress, maternal hemorrhage, and RDS (ICPCare.com 2017).

As I already mentioned, if you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor.  Get the word out.  Don’t scare pregnant friends and family members, but if they ever mention any of these symptoms, at least tell them about ICP.  It can’t hurt to inform anyone.

Pregnancy is a wonderful, scary, lovely, unexplainable experience.  I remember my doctor telling me to stay away from “Dr Google”, but I’m glad I didn’t listen.  Sure, you can make yourself crazy and worry about every little thing, but you can also be informed.

Good luck to all the mamas out there:)

Reference: 

Diagnosis of Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP). (2017). Retrieved from http://www.icpcare.org/what-is-icp/diagnosis/

Risks of Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP). (2017). Retrieved from http://www.icpcare.org/what-is-icp/risks/