The stretching of your skin during pregnancy, or rashes associated with pregnancy can cause intense itching.
Common places that pregnant women experience itching are on the palms of the hand and the soles of the feet. One woman reported to us that the only relief she found was from sliced cucumber in her gloves and socks!
You should always mention itching to your carer, as itching can be caused by a severe liver disorder known as obstetric cholestasis. A milder form of cholestasis is more common and a single blood test can determine if this is the case. There is medication that can be given, but usually if a woman is near term induction of labour may be recommended.
Try not to wear man-made fibres – cotton and linen will be much cooler on your skin.
Do not use mineral based “baby oils” to moisturise. Try coconut oil, aloe vera lotion or calendula cream.
Calamine lotion may soothe itching, but try and limit use.
Take warm oatmeal (yes porridge!) baths. (Put a couple of handfuls of oatmeal into an old sock or tight. Tie it off so the oats do not fall out. Secure it on to your tap so that water runs through it, or place in the bath. It can be reused a few times until it stops turning the water a milky colour.)
Adding some bread soda to your bathwater may also offer some relief.
See if switching your washing powder to a non-biological brand helps.
Avoid perfumed products and soaps – even your favourite products Ask your chemist about soap substitutes that will also suit your newborn baby.
Ask your carer to prescribe a suitable antihistamine or a mild hydrocortisone cream.
“The worst itch was on my belly. Someone told me to roll up a small wet hand-towel and place it under by breasts to stop them rubbing against my belly. It was the first thing I did when I got in the door every evening, and it brought brief, but welcome relief.”
“One problem in my second pregnancy was an itchy unsightly rash over my pregnant stomach in the last few weeks of pregnancy – after topical creams had no effect, I was prescribed a low dose of antihistamines, which also didn’t work. After the baby’s birth I expected the rash to disappear but it got worse and spread so that by day 4 post-partum, it was all over my breasts (already very engorged and painful to begin with) as well as my stomach – it was driving me mad, I couldn’t sleep with the itch (never mind the newborn baby!). I ended up sobbing in misery in my doctor’s surgery. He was great and conferred with a paediatrician and the lactation consultant to see what I could take while breastfeeding. I was finally prescribed steroids which thankfully worked quickly.”