helen-george

Call the Midwife's Helen George shares throwback baby bump photo as she reflects on 'painful' pregnancy

The actress is a doting mum to two daughters

Helen George has opened up about her "uncomfortable and painful" experience with ICP (intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy) during her second pregnancy with daughter Lark.

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ICP, which affects 1 in 140 pregnant women in the UK, is a serious liver disorder which is caused by a build-up of acid within the body. The condition means there is a higher risk of stillbirth and a potentially dangerous birth.

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Following Sunday's emotional finale of Call the Midwife, which depicted the condition, Helen shared a never-before-seen image of her shadow when she was pregnant to reflect on her personal experience. "After last night's final episode of Call the Midwife, it seemed the right time to talk about my experience with Cholestasis in Pregnancy," she wrote on Monday.

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"In 2017 when I gave birth to our daughter Wren, I was diagnosed with this condition. I knew there was a high chance that I would suffer again with my second pregnancy, but I was under the most incredible specialists/doctors/midwives/health workers at Guys and St Thomas’s. So I felt safe."

Detailing her itchy symptoms - something she described as "infuriating" - the actress added: "I tried everything, creams, baths, all of it and nothing would work. I would scratch all day and all night, normally on my hands, shoulders, feet but that quickly increased to just bloody everywhere. I was put onto medication (Urso) at around 30 wks.

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The actress shared this throwback snap of her shadow from when she was pregnant

"My bile acids - whilst up and down were stable because of this, so I knew Lark was okay and the pregnancy progressing well. But the medication did little for the itch and urge to scratch myself raw. I have to say this pregnancy was so uncomfortable and painful. I thought the second would be easier but it really wasn't.

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"Pre term birth is always a possibility with this condition but I was so hoping it wouldn’t come to that. However, for me it did."

Her partner Jack Ashton rushed to the hospital when doctors told her she must have an emergency caesarean. "I started having contractions whilst away but managed to race back to London and my obstetrician," she continued. "He decided to perform an emergency C section that day, but I had to cross my legs whilst Jack raced to the hospital…

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Helen shares two daughters with partner Jack Ashton

"Lark was born on the 16th November to our chosen music, The Lark Ascending. The relief when we heard her first cry was overwhelming, a release of months of anxiety and the fear that this moment may not play out quite so successfully. Lark was born early but healthy and is doing so well."

On the importance of highlighting the condition, Helen - who is a patron of ICP Support - said: "I was lucky, but more so, well looked after. ICP support were there every step of the way to help me with whatever questions I had. Please, if you are worried you may have Cholestasis in Pregnancy or have been diagnosed and need any advice, do reach out to them."

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