healthy diet for pregnancy

Self Help


Self Help

Self Care for Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP)

While there is no cure for Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy, there are many ways to manage and ease symptoms of the disorder, which is better for mother and baby. Eating a healthy diet and lowering stress levels is best for women with or without ICP. Please note the information on this page are self-help tips that women with (ICP) Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy found helpful.

Doctor Recommended Medications for ICP Symptoms

The medicine Ursodeoxycholic Acid (UDCA/Urso) helps to treat, manage and improve ICP, meanwhile the below are complementary self-helps to reduce and relieve discomforts from the itching. See treatment page for other treatments your doctor may prescribe.

A Healthcare provider can prescribe Vistaril – Hydroxyzine – an antihistamine with anticholinergic (drying) and sedative properties used as a sedative to treat anxiety and tension.

Eating a Healthy Diet for a Healthy Pregnancy

Seems simple enough, but many pregnant women are missing essential nutrients that are key for the healthy development and growth of your baby. Many women with Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy notice eating a healthier diet helps reduce the severity of the itching experienced. ICP affects the liver, and to help the liver detoxify the body, the best food to eat is nutrient-dense foods that are low in toxins. Please refer to the Healthy Diet Page for recommended foods with essential nutrients for ICP. Please keep in mind there is no way to prevent or cure and once you are diagnosed there is no reversing ICP with a healthy diet.

Please seek additional information from professional herbalists, naturopathic doctors, and nutritionists specializing to heal the body with real food and supplements. They may recommend women with ICP take Milk Thistle and Dandelion Root or Tea, which women have benefited from to reduce symptoms.

Drink Plenty of Water

It is important for women with ICP – Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy to drink water. Water helps to flush toxins out of the body and helps the body systems work more efficiently. If you do not like plain water add a half squeezed lemon. This helps reduce the risk of liver disorder. To figure out how much water to drink, ask a doctor. Or, a simple rule of thumb is to take half your body weight, and drink that amount in ounces of water.

The Importance of Reducing Stress During Pregnancy

A wealth of knowledge and research now suggests that maternal prenatal health plays an important role in the health, growth and development of babies during pregnancy and over their life span. There is increasing evidence that suggests that the intentional use of stress reduction skills during the preconception, prenatal and early parenting periods lessens the negative impacts of stress on mothers and babies.

Women with ICP – Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy, noticed high stress situations increased their itching. It helps to maintain as low of a stress level as possible. Try meditation and positive affirmations to help with mental health and fetal distress.

Pregnancy Exercise Routines

Incorporating a mild to moderate exercise routine can be safe during pregnancy and is recommended by experts. It helps women both physically and mentally. There are many options including Yoga, walking, dancing, swimming, and stretching. Please always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program during pregnancy.

Coping Tools Infographic (Full Size PDF version)

Itchy Moms Coping Tools while living with Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP).


Eliminate External Irritants

Although ICP – Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy itching is caused by internal irritants; it certainly doesn’t help to have dry, irritated skin. The following is a list of suggestions to reduce external irritants to the skin: use Sarna lotion (cool it in the refrigerator for extra relief), reduce heavy perfumed lotion, keep skin moisturized, keep legs shaved and smooth, keep environment moist with a humidifier, wear cool & loose cotton clothing, keep temperatures low to keep blood flow slower, sleep with a fan, use ice-packs and cool baths for comfort, use a body brush in the shower, reduce bedding and linens at night, and use soft cotton slip covers on furniture when sitting.

Essential Oils Can Reduce Stress During Pregnancy

Essential oils are scented extracts that manufacturers derive from plants, flowers, and fruits. They come in a liquid form, and can be diffused or rubbed directly on the body. Research suggests that aromatherapy with some essential oils may help promote relaxation and relieve anxiety.

The following links can be helpful on questions for the use of essential oils during pregnancy. National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy pregnancy safety information.

You may also find peer reviewed research on essential oils at Aromatic Science.

Please reach out to Donna ICP Care Founder (also an Essential Oils Educator) with questions or self help topical blends for the itch.

Antihistamines and Lotions

Antihistamines are medicines used to treat allergies and hypersensitive reactions. There is no evidence to prove that antihistamines such as Benedryl help in ICP, and many women with ICP do not receive much relief from itching when taken. There are lotions such as Sarna which have a cooling effect on the skin and may provide temporary relief. Sarna lotion is a menthol lotion many itchymoms find soothing. It does not reduce the bile acids and is not a treatment, but rather a topical help for the itching. Many women find that rubbing the Sarna lotion and then sitting in front of a fan helps to cool and soothe. You may also try other options like Aveeno and Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap. You can speak to your pharmacist to make an aqueous cream with 1-2% menthol. In the UK, there is a product called Dermacool to temporarily help relieve the itch.

Personal and Household products

  • The skin is the largest organ of the human body and absorbs personal care products as well as household products used. Below are helpful tips on products to use to reduce exposure to toxins.
  • Paraben free personal care products such as lotions, body wash, make up, shampoos and conditioners. The reason is that parabens mimic estrogen in the body which ICP women already have an issue with this condition. Choose natural safe alternatives.
  • Cleaning products from eco-friendly companies for a clean toxic chemical-free home.

Visit ICP Care on Pinterest to review the Healthy Diet Board and Healthy Recipe Board.

Please review the Helpful Products & Books page.