ICP in Pregnancy

March 7, 2018


Pregnancy is weird - it changes you so much. It makes belly stretch out like a balloon and hormones make you grow hair, lose hair, cry every 20 seconds, break out, glow, etc. For me, it caused me to get ICP. Now ICP is short for Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy, something I had literally never heard of before I was diagnosed with it 4 days before my daughter was born. According to ICPcare.org, ICP is described as the following:


" ICP is a group of liver disorders specific to pregnancy which interfere with the flow of bile. Bile is a substance produced by the cells of the liver to aid in digestion of fats. During normal liver function, the bile which is produced is transported out of the cells and into the bile duct by special pumps. During Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy, the cells are unable to transport the bile out of the cells normally, which leads to bile acids building up in the blood. Elevated bile acids in the blood are associated with increased risk to the unborn baby."


So before I get into details, let me start at the beginning. I was at work, about 36 weeks pregnant when i felt SUPER itchy. I usually don't have problems with skin hydration, and this was the middle of the summer. I went into the washroom at work and just lathered myself in lotion and I mentioned it to one of my coworkers who commented that it was strange. I remember saying that I felt like this while I was pregnant with Ena and kind of just laughed it off and moved on - figuring it was normal. That Friday was my last day of work before maternity leave and I felt sick, and started having some light contractions. I left work on my last day early (I know, what a slacker) and went into triage at the hospital.  The contractions got worse throughout the day, then tapered off. After the doctors checked me out, I was given morphine and sent back home. They let me know that if I felt weird to come back.


I woke up the next day (Saturday) and felt even more itchy but I assumed it was from the morphine. That stuff can't be good for your body right? I went to the farmers market with my parents and just kind of did my best to enjoy my last couple of weeks of pregnancy because I had already scheduled my c-section date. That same weekend, I took Ena swimming and afterwards thought the itchiness was from the chlorine (seeing a pattern here right?).

Monday morning rolls around and it's my first day of maternity leave! Who hoo!! Except the itchiness has now moved to my hands and feet and the pain is unbearable. I dropped Ena off at daycare and went into triage again. This time they did a bunch of blood work, and once the results came in after what felt like hours, it was confirmed - I had ICP. I had no idea what that meant and had just kind of assumed it wasn't a big deal. I had done a ton of testing throughout my pregnancy and all of my tests came back fine - iron levels, no gestational diabetes, etc. But when they started explaining the condition to me, there was a word that was mentioned multiple times --



I. WAS. TERRIFIED. Devastated. Horrified. Essentially, my body was not processing the bile correctly and it was building up in my body and was potentially causing harm to my baby. Now that was a terrifying thought. So to shorten this story - I had to take pills to jump start my liver and gallbladder. I did multiple tests and ultrasounds to monitor the baby. I had to be very "in tune" with my body - count kicks every hour all while attempting to "relax" because added stress is not good for anyone. I barely slept. And on Wednesday, after I had lunch with a girlfriend of mine where I was itching to the point that I started bleeding, I decided to go back into triage for a third time. I had hoped that I could convince the doctors to deliver the baby that day - I was 37 weeks and 4 days after all. 


And it worked! I had the MOST amazing triage nurse who relayed my concerns to the doctors and they agreed that it was time for baby girl to come out. We were NOT ready - Edis left work early and was still in his suit, we did not have our hospital or diaper bags packed, but she was coming. Luckily(?) I was bumped a few times for emergency surgeries and my husband was able to go home and pack the essentials while the grandparents were able to watch Ena. And about 10 hours after I arrived in triage, our baby girl was born. 10:57 PM, tiny and perfect.





The condition goes away immediately after birth, and once she was born, the only thing I felt was relief that she was going to be okay. So as I finish with my Public Service Announcement for the day - if you are pregnant or hoping to be in the future, DO NOT IGNORE THE ITCHINESS. It is likely nothing - but its ALWAYS better to be safe than be sorry. 


 "80% of cases are diagnosed in the third trimester, about 10% in the second trimester, and about 10% in the first trimester, with documented cases as early as 8 weeks pregnant."  - ICPcare.org 



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