Helen George, 36, suffered ICP during the late stage of her pregnancy, when she was pregnant with daughter Wren Ivy. ICP, which stands for intrahepatic cholestasis, is a liver condition which can cause itching. Urging others to be vigilant about the condition in 2018, the actress posted about her ordeal on social media.
Alongside an image of herself in a central London hospital room posted to Instagram, she wrote: “This was me just over a year ago, gowned up and showing off my bump in Big Ben’s gaze. The day before we had been out walking the dog when I had the feeling of my blood literally boiling, and an itchiness all over my body even in my ears and in my eyes.
“I had scratched myself so much that my shellac nail varnish had chipped and I was black and blue from bruising.”
Helen was aware ICP ran in her family and she had a 50/50 chance of having it during her own pregnancy.
She called the charity ICP Support and was told to head to hospital to have her bloods checked.
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“I tried to brush [it] off, we had a roast chicken in the oven which I REALLY wanted to eat first. But I went… and within 24 hours Wren was delivered. It wasn’t my ‘perfect birth’,” she continued.
“My nail varnish was chipped in all of the photos, my overnight bag was lacking in everything I needed, but Wren was safe, 3 weeks early.”
Helen ended her message by inviting her followers to a fundraising event she was hosting for ICP Support – a charity she is patron of.
Itching is common in pregnancy. It’s thought to be caused by raised levels of certain chemicals in the blood, such as hormones, explains the NHS.
Later, as your bump grows, the skin of your tummy is stretched and may also feel itchy.
But sometimes itching can be a symptom of ICP, also known as obstetric cholestasis (OC).
The health body advises: “ICP needs medical attention. It affects one in 140 pregnant women in the UK.”
Symptoms of ICP
The main symptom of the condition is itching, usually without a rash.
What happens in the case of ICP?
Normally, bile acids flow from the liver to the gut and help a person digest food.
But in ICP, the bile acids do not flow properly and build up in the body instead.
So what should you do if you think you have ICP?
If you have itching that’s mild or distressing, possibly worse at night, call your midwife or GP.
Do the same if you have itching anywhere on your body, but it worse on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet.