Pregnancy: Obstetric Cholestasis
When I became pregnant in July 1998, a few months before my 35th birthday, I was amazed but delighted. Amazed because I had only just come off the pill after 17 years and was warned it could take up to a year to fall!
The pregnancy went very well until about 32 weeks, when I started suffering very itchy feet and ankles and generally felt unwell. As the days went by it got worse and worse. I did a search on the Internet and came across a condition called Obstetric Cholestasis. I asked my midwife about it and she sent me for a blood test which was followed a week later by a dopplar test and an appointment with a consultant. He never mentioned the itching, in fact the only thing he said was that my water was a little on the low side. 10 days later at exactly 37 weeks I suddenly went into labour, my daughter was born well and healthy after an 11 hour labour. It was only when I went up to the ward that I was told that I did in fact have OC.
Knowing that OC carries the risk of stillbirth and premature labour and that I could have been warned I was very angry with the consultant I saw, so much so that I requested an appointment with him, which I had when my daughter was a few weeks old. He was very dismissive saying that I didn't have it that bad and there is no treatment anyway.
It was that and certainly not my age that put me off another pregnancy, but when my daughter was nearly 2 years old I discovered a lady who runs the OC support group and she was so very helpful. Although I had a 90% chance of getting it again, she got me an appointment with one of the two specialist doctors in this condition which I attended with my blood test results from my pregnancy.
The doctor could not have been nicer, she first looked at my blood tests and confirmed that yes I had had OC. She then explained the drugs that are used to help treat the condition, the fact OC women have regular dopplar scans and that they are always induced by 37 weeks. She said if my local hospital were not prepared to treat me then I could be referred to her.
Four months later I fell pregnant, but although I had met the OC suport lady, I wanted to talk to other ladies who had been through this. Thinking that age might have a bearing on this condition (it doesn't) I went through a seach engine and came up with Mothers35plus. I lurked for a few weeks, then finally plucked up courage to post. I didn't find a fellow OC sufferer but the support, advice, love and laughs more than made up for that.
I was very lucky that this time the consultant I saw knew all about the treatment for OC and was happy to follow the treatment that Dr Williamson had suggested. As it happened, by an amazing stroke of luck I did not get OC this time and my son was born a few days early - 2 months before my 39th birthday safe and well.
Both my labours were difficult as they were both back to back, my daughter was delivered by ventouse and with my son - who was completely stuck, I had to be cut and he was delivered by forceps. It was thought he had been in that position for some time as my waters had gone 3 days earlier and I had been having irregular contractions for 36 hours before that, also my blood pressure had been very high - I had been admitted overnight but released the day before they broke. So because of the OC and the difficult births my husband decided to have the snip as he didn't want to see me go through it again.
I am now halfway through training to become a breastfeeding counsellor and am able to give a little something back to the site that helped me through so much.