Being pregnant may have its ups and downs but an itch is not really a symptom a woman wants during pregnancy. But some women do experience it all over their bodies, especially during the last trimester— a condition known as obstetric cholestasis.
According to Dr Bandita Sinha, consulting gynaecologist at Fortis Vashi, the itch is caused due to build-up of bile.
“Bile helps to break down food, in particular fats, in your gut. Normally, it flows down a tube into your intestines. But if you have obstetric cholestasis, less bile flows into your intestines, which means that it starts to build up in your body,” said Dr Sinha.
In some cases, women may experience severe itching on their tummy, breasts, hands and legs. The itching is worst at night. “If the itching is severe, pregnant women may also develop jaundice, which can be passed on to the child. Jaundice will cause the woman’s skin to turn yellow,” she added.
Most of the time, the itch is reduced post-pregnancy. Dr Sukriti Jain, consulting gynaecologist, Snehdeep Hospital, said that women who experience this problem usually have high-risk pregnancies. “In these cases, the pregnancy does not last for 37 weeks,” she said. Usually, anti-allergy medication is prescribed along with a calamine lotion to help cool the itching. “Around five or six among 100 suffer from this problem. But it is important not to ignore the itch,” she said.
Dr Mini Naambootri from Nerul said that this problem has been in existence for decades but women have started to be more aware of it now.