Christina DePino was pregnant and eagerly awaiting the birth of her baby girl, but a case of severe itching was keeping her up at night. Eventually, it got so bad, she reached out to people on the Internet with her concerns, and the response she got potentially saved her baby's life.
"What had started as an all-over itch started to become more pronounced on the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet," DePino told TODAY. "It got to the point that I could no longer sleep at night...my arms and legs were bleeding from all the scratching."
After posting about her problem on Facebook, friends immediately told her she might have cholestasis, and that she should visit a doctor. DePino was 35 weeks pregnant when her doctor confirmed it: DePino had cholestasis of pregnancy.
According to the Mayo Clinic, cholestasis is any condition that prevents bile from leaving the liver. Pregnancy can cause cholestasis, which, like DePino's case, causes extreme itching, usually in the hands and feet. Cholestasis doesn't have any long-term risks for the mother, but it can cause sudden death for the fetus so doctors usually recommend an early delivery.
At 37 weeks doctors induced labor, and DePino gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Lexa Rae. Now, she wants to use her alarming experience to spread awareness and potentially save future babies.
"As soon as I was holding my beautiful baby girl in my arms, all I could think was, 'What if?'" said the Michigan mom. "What if I had not complained on Facebook? What if no one had told me? All I could think was that I had to let other women know. I didn't want any of them to wonder what had happened to their perfectly healthy baby."
If you or someone you know might be suffering from cholestasis of pregnancy, see a doctor right away.