Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Pregnant? Itchy? Get yourself tested!!

Not many people know but I suffered from an uncommon problem when I was pregnant - I had OC (obstetric cholestasis). That is I had bile / liver issues caused by my pregnancy.

It started out as an itch, the skin around the bump was itchy but I put this down to the bump growing so quickly in my last semester. Actually I had the same profile as Mr. Greedy by the end of my pregnancy - I had to walk about holding the bump!

The itch grew worse and I would find it hard to fall asleep, it would feel as if I had chilblains on my feet. I had to scratch my feet until they nearly bled before going to sleep. We'd had a new wool carpet installed downstairs - I thought I had developed an intolerance to wool during my pregnancy!

Then (excuse me if you are eating your lunch) something odd happened. My number twos turned a pale yellow colour. I'd not eaten a lot of cheese or cream or too much of any dairy product but I seemed to be having this odd side effect.

I lost my appetite, I became prone to falling asleep without realising it...I'd wake up on a sofa with the hoover attachment still in my hands - disorientated wondering how I managed to end up on the sofa!

Bruise from all those blood tests
So I mentioned the itching to my midwife during one of my usual check ups. She took blood for tests straight away!

My local hospital carried out the wrong tests and a week later I was asked to go to the hospital clinic to have MORE blood removed.

Another week passed by and one of my knees swelled up and was really very itchy. My husband took me to A&E fed up of his wife scratching herself to a bleeding state! 6 hours later I was taken up to the maternity ward for examination. A nice student doctor informed me that I had an insect bite but when a nurse asked me my history the student doctor decided more blood tests were in order. Since this was 11.30pm they decided to keep me there until the morning.

No pregnant lady weeks away from her due date should have to spend the night on a maternity ward listening to women being induced, women in labour and women coming in giving birth having waited at home too long! A horror movie couldn't come close to the primeval sounds women make during this time. I got NO sleep at all and became more determined to have a nice controlled water birth (ha ha ha ha LOL so much for birth plans)

An obstetric doctor discharged me the following lunchtime informing me that I could take a piriton when the itching was very bad.

I was turned away by the first pharmacy, they don't give piriton to pregnant ladies. I sent the husband in to lie on my behalf to the second pharmacy. I needed relief so that I could sleep.

It was 5 full days later that my blood was finally tested correctly, so it was a rushed call from a student doctor at 11.30pm (for some reason this seems to be the only time student doctors who work in obstetrics have the chance to do any paper work). My liver was in trouble, I had a condition called OC and they had to induce the baby now or I'd lose the baby.

Baby was happily kicking away as usual and thanks to my friend piriton I felt OK. So I informed the Dr that I would come in for a chat in the morning after a nights sleep.

12 hours later I was back on the maternity ward, in a bed waiting to be induced. It was Saturday 1st May at 12.30. My labour started at 4pm on the Saturday - three days later my beautiful baby daughter was born.
First midwife forgot to add my 2pm induction injection, my second was a 9pm
So add another 7 hours to that 59hrs, 10 hrs for my second stage seems about right.

There are a few positive pieces about my birth story - once I was on the labour ward the staff were knowledgeable, professional and informed. The Snr Registrar looking after me took notice of my wishes, even saving me from the emergency cesearian I didn't want.

My midwife aftercare was professional and kind as it had been throughout my pregnancy.

However, I knew nothing about my condition and therefore wasn't able to make informed decisions or inform those not familiar with my condition (maternity ward staff) the complications of my condition.

For anyone who recognises my symptoms I give you this wonderful website: http://www.ocsupport.org.uk/about.html 

If you are worried or have concerns then please don't hesitate to email me or send me a message through Facebook. I lost a lot of blood and never did get the all clear from my post pregnancy blood tests (once again the wrong tests were carried out - I give up!) but both baby and I are happy and healthy!


  1. Thats a great awareness post Sarah, and lucky you had a great midwife. Can I also highlight Strep B? My nephew was recently born with this as his mum wasnt tested, or offered a test, he was in NICU for a few days and spent 13 days in hospital but it was caught very early and he is fine, he came home on Christmas Eve. Its a relatively cheap test, you can buy one yourself if you are not offered it, but could save a life.

  2. Glad to hear he's OK Kerri! We should have you guest blog about Strep B, I went through 7months of pregnancy not aware of any symptoms or complications that come with the joy of the bump. Where can you get the test from, a local pharmacy? Let me know and I'll tweet it as well.

  3. I think you have to pay for them as I dont think they are routinely done on the NHS - I found this http://www.medisave.co.uk/group-b-streptococcus-screening-test-p-7896.html but follow a Strep B group on Twitter, @GBSSupport, something which is so easy to test for. I am asking for a test this time around, I'll let you know what they say. I dont want to go through the same as my sister in law. She also had a c-section so it doesnt have to just be natural births.
    I think just raising awareness is a good idea.

  4. Totally agree! I'm going to mention it in my next tweet!

  5. Please would you also mention the UK group B Strep petition - it's at http://www.gbss.org.uk/epetition and needs 100,000 to trigger a debate on the subject in the UK's House of Commons

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  7. Really great post.

    The Baby Shower Link Party this week is focused on pregnancy health and conditions such as cholestasis and I would absolutely love for you to link this post up Alice @ Mums Make Lists xx

  8. Not sure how to link up a post? But would like to! Email me with details and I'll try to sort something out.