Obstetric Cholestasis


Obstetric cholestasis (OC) is a conditionthat occurs during pregnancy and commonly presents as itching in pregnancy. Although it may happen at any time from 8 weeks onwards, it is commonly seen in the second and third trimesters. It is also called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP). It is slightly more common in women of Asian and South American origin.

How do I suspect / know I have obstetric cholestasis?

Itching (also called pruritus):

  • This can be mild or so severe that you scratch your skin until it bleeds. It can be constant or intermittent.
  • The itch usually affects the hands and feet, but may occur anywhere on your body.
  • Many women find that it is worse at night and it disturbs their sleep.
  • There is no rash associated with the itch, but there may be marks on your skin from scratching (also called excoriation).
  • Although the symptoms of OC are distressing for you, they should resolve rapidly after your baby is born. They are not thought to have any long-term effects on your health, but research into this is ongoing.

Other symptoms:

  • Some (but not all) women with OC develop other symptoms associated with cholestasis. These may include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes), dark urine and pale stools.
  • It is not uncommon for women with OC to feel generally unwell, tired and to lose their appetite.