Itching during pregnancy

Itchy skin is fairly common during pregnancy.

It is typically mild but some women will develop severe skin irritation a condition that can be deadly to the unborn child.

Mary and Rich Pokrywka will soon welcome a new son, Joseph.

He will be an early arrival, because Mary started itching.

It started the day before Easter intense and localized to the bottoms of her feet and palms of her hands.

Expectant mother, Mary Pokrywka says, "All you could do is rub the hands as hard as you can but it never seemed to go away."

Mary could not find an explanation in her pregnancy book but she worried the itching was serious.

"Those who are just being told itching is a part of pregnancy for some it may be, but this type of itching, when it's your feet, your legs, your arms, your hands, that's not normal," says Pokrywka.

She is right; it's called obstetric cholestasis, a liver condition in which the normal flow of bile is impaired.

Bile acid enters the blood stream and causes itching but that is not all.

“This isn't harmless when you know there's a possibility that your baby could be born stillborn that's not harmless," says Pokrywka.

Symptoms usually appear within the third trimester and the easiest way to find it is with a blood test.

Dr. Tom Zarlingo, of Fairview Hospital in Cleveland says, "But because the test is negative doesn't mean you don't have the problem it can be up to fifteen weeks after the onset of symptoms that the serum bile acids begin to go up."

Mary’s monitored twice a week with blood tests, non-stress fetal exams, medications and regular ultrasounds of her baby and liver.

The only cure is to deliver Joseph a couple weeks early.

"Until that 37th week of pregnancy when it becomes very fatal and I know I will be delivering before I get to that point," says Pokrywka.

Until then, she and Rich find relief each time Joseph moves.

It is important to remember, most itching is common during pregnancy.

However, if you have uncontrollable itch that is localized, you may want to contact your doctor.

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