Ester Marsh column: What does it mean to have cholestasis?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 25, 2021

Cholestasis, what is it?

To be honest with you, I never heard of this until about three weeks ago. My oldest daughter, who is pregnant with her second child, was about 33 weeks when her hands and feet started itching terribly during the night. She mentioned it to her doctor in Virginia and she instantly did blood work and liver function. She ended up being diagnosed with pregnancy cholestasis.

What that means is that her liver is having a challenge passing the bile flow. Bile is a fluid that is made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. It’s used to break down fats when digesting foods. Cholestasis is when the opening from liver to gallbladder is blocked or has reduced the movement of bile. When that flow is altered, it can lead up to a buildup of bile acid in the blood. My daughter has pregnancy cholestasis which they believe happened due to the hormones change during her pregnancy.

You do not have to be pregnant or a female to get cholestasis. Any disorder of the liver, bile duct or pancreas can cause this. If you notice your skin and the whites of your eyes become yellowish, check with your doctor. Even if it’s not cholestasis, it could be other issues with those organs. Some other symptoms can be the itching of the skin (after her hands and feet, her whole body started to feel very itchy), dark urine and your stools can become light colored and foul smelling.

So what does this mean for someone who is pregnant? If the test comes back 10 and below, it’s normal; over 40, it’s concerning and the baby will be delivered before due date. If it is more than 100, it’s a big problem and baby needs to be delivered immediately. Of course, the blood of the mother flows and feeds the baby too, and too high levels of bile acid in the blood can be detrimental to the baby. She is in great hands, and her doctor is on top of it, but grandbaby No. 2 will be born before her due date. What is the saying? Small children, small worries — big children, big worries? Boy, my mom was right! She also used to say (in Dutch of course) that it’s double the worry having a child and a grandchild. Again, so right! However, this is when faith pulls me through and keeps me balanced. There are so many things in life we truly can’t control. All we can do is pray, hope and breathe…

I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas or any other special celebration during this time. We hold our loved ones close, focus on what this season truly means to us, and love, and be kind to each other. Vrolijk Kerstfeest.

Ester Hoeben Marsh is health and fitness director at the JF Hurley YMCA.

About Post Lifestyles

Visit us on Facebook: and Twitter @postlifestlyes for more content

email author More by Post