When mom-to-be Kelly T first downloaded the What To Expect app, she likely expected to learn a little more about what to anticipate when it comes to having a baby, and what changes she could expect for her own body.
But when she began experiencing itching feet and toes, she didn't think anything of it — until she checked the app's community forum.
There, she learned that some other community members went through the same thing and had been diagnosed with a condition known as cholestasis. According to the American Liver Foundation, it's a liver disease that occurs when the flow of bile from the liver stops or slows. It's also fairly common, occurring in 1 to 2 pregnancies in every thousand in the U.S. In addition to itching feet, some other symptoms include itching palms, dark urine, nausea, and even preterm labour.
Cholestasis poses several risks for pregnant women — it is associated with increased risk of stillbirth, fetal distress, and respiratory distress. Kelly mentioned that she had a relatively "easy pregnancy," but after reading about other women's experiences, she decided to check in with her doctor.
"I almost felt silly bringing up my itchy feet to the nurse because it was so mild that I was sure it was nothing — I thought I was just being paranoid," she said in a piece for What To Expect.
However, her doctor was able to officially diagnose her with cholestasis — and not only that, she would have to be induced for labour a month early.
"It felt so ironic to get the news that all of a sudden, I was considered high risk and my baby could die," she wrote.
Kelly credits the community on What To Expect for helping her to understand her own symptoms, and to ultimately save her baby's life.
"Had it not been for the women who posted to the What to Expect app about their own itchy hands and feet or their own experiences with cholestasis, I would never have known to mention it to my doctor, and I would have been left undiagnosed. My baby could have died," she wrote. "It’s absolutely terrifying to think of what could have happened if I had not been aware. I want other women to know that if they experience ANY itching, even mild as mine was, don't feel silly about speaking up."
Kelly's story points to why pregnancy apps can be so great — though you'll likely be visiting your doctor pretty frequently if you're pregnant, it always helps to have even more resources on hand (literally).