Cholestasis of Pregnancy Diet

What is a cholestasis of pregnancy diet?

Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy happens in the late stages of pregnancy. Falling under the class of cholestasis liver disorders, it causes intense itching in the hands and feet of expecting mothers.

More significantly, when the bile flow is interrupted and increasing bile acids are pumped into the bloodstream, unborn babies are most at risk. If the condition isn't properly treated and monitored by an obstetrician, stillbirth may occur.

The main causes of cholestasis of pregnancy

No one knows for sure what causes obstetric cholestasis as it is otherwise known. However, the evidence points to genetics as well as higher levels of hormones during pregnancy.

Treatment for cholestasis of pregnancy

Bile is a type of digestive fluid that the liver produces to help break down fats.

To help restore bile function, ursodeoxycholic acid is usually prescribed for women with cholestasis of pregnancy.

Let food be thy medicine

Many of us already know that we can enjoy better health and well-being by the types of foods we eat. But can certain foods really help with cholestasis of pregnancy? Experts believe the answer can be heard from women who have already walked in these shoes.

In some journals, expecting mothers reported that when they made a conscious effort to eat clean and wholesome foods, less itching was experienced.

The American Liver Foundation also suggests adopting a healthy diet to promote better liver function after the diagnosis of cholestasis of pregnancy.

What to eat for cholestasis of pregnancy

The cholestasis of pregnancy diet entails creating a well-rounded meal plan with certain goals in mind, one of which is placing less strain on the liver. To accomplish this, turn to lecithin.

Lecithin is a type of unsaturated fat that helps to absorb fats in the bile. There are a number of foods that are rich in lecithin, including plants and meats. Health care experts suggest incorporating a mixture of both to promote better liver health.

To do so, try:

  • A rainbow of colors – From decadent bananas to sweet and succulent watermelons, tart squashes to hearty yams, mix and match a variety of fruits and vegetables to your diet to help aid in digestion. Just be sure these are all organic.
  • Being a picky eater – Organic fruits and vegetables are highly recommended due to the absence of pesticides or toxins which may affect how well the liver works.
  • Munching on leafy greens – Help your liver turn over a new leaf with dark, green, and fertile vegetables, such as lettuce, cabbage, kale, or spinach, for example.
  • The best cuts of meats – Once again, antibiotic-free meat cuts that are void of toxins are best for helping to manage obstetric cholestasis. Another good source of lecithin, besides meats, are eggs and dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and milk. For best results, try lean meats and opt for reduced or fat-free options of dairy products.
  • Drinking more water – The more water you drink, the better it is for detoxifying the liver.

Don't drink alcohol

The American Pregnancy Association strongly advises against drinking during pregnancy. In addition to the obvious risks, alcohol can put added pressure on an already overworked liver. This should give expecting moms with obstetric cholestasis even more reason to pass up the alcohol.

A word of caution

Even though diet plays a significant role in managing cholestasis of pregnancy, it shouldn't be used to substitute medical intervention. Due to the risk of stillbirth or unborn fetuses inhaling meconium toward the end of pregnancy, most health care professionals will recommend scheduling delivery at or before the 37-week mark.

The cholestasis of pregnancy diet, however, is a big piece of the puzzle for promoting a better outcome.

The take-home message

A good diet, in general, promotes a better quality of life. A seasoned nutritionist, along with your obstetrician, can create a best-for-now meal plan to supplement your cholestasis of pregnancy treatment.

There are also a number of online support groups to join, where you can interact with other expecting mothers and discuss symptoms and natural remedies to alleviate itching, for example.

By all accounts, always be sure to speak to your health care provider before commencing any type of treatment, including herbal or holistic models during pregnancy.

Last Reviewed:
June 21, 2017
Last Updated:
October 12, 2017
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