Jaundice During Pregnancy: Symptom, Causes, Treatments


Perhaps you think the nausea you suffer from every morning is morning sickness? Or, you pass off your yellow complexion for anaemia? That’s where you go wrong. If you have yourself examined by your doctor, you will realize that you have symptoms of jaundice.

Pregnancy is a very sensitive and crucial stage for you and your baby, so you must be vigilant and attentive to any health problems you face suddenly during your pregnancy as this could have a direct or indirect effect on your baby. Jaundice is one such health issue to look out for.

Read More: 7 Remedies of Jaundice in New Born Babies


The causes of jaundice are as follows:

1. Hyperemesis gravidarum

In the early stages of pregnancy, women may experience vomiting that could cause chronic dehydration to the extent that it affects the optimal functioning of the liver, causing jaundice.

2. HELP Syndrome

After the first half of pregnancy, women may sometimes develop a severe complicaiton of pre-eclampsia. HELP is an acronym for Hemolysis, Elevated Liver Enzymes and Low Platelets. Together, it signifies that this pressure problem is chronic.


3. Acute fatty liver

When fatty acids build up in the liver, it causes chronic liver dysfunction leading to jaundice. This usually occurs towards the end of the pregnancy term, and is common among first-time pregnant women, and particularly to those women who are due to have twins. The pregnant woman and her baby face a high risk of death.

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Other causes include:

  • Primary biliary cirrhosis, viral hepatitis and liver cancer
  • Overdose of paracetamol that can take its toll on liver functioning to the extent of inhibiting the ability of ejecting waste, leading to jaundice.
  • Stones in the bile duct (Choledocholithiasis)leads to a build-up of bilirubin causing jaundice.
  • Malaria can also cause liver inflammation, leading to jaundice.
  • Sickle cell anaemia causes the breakdown of red blood cells and a build-up of the waste product, bilirubin.
  • Obesity, some autoimmune diseases and high cholesterol levels can also cause jaundice.


The symptoms of jaundice are:

  • Yellow colouring of the eyes and skin
  • Weakness
  • Skin irritation
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Light-coloured stools
  • Fever and headache
  • Weakness and loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Swelling around the liver
  • Swelling of the legs, ankles and feet


Reports of blood tests usually confirm jaundice and spot its cause too. Jaundice is usually an indicator to an underlying problem. The doctor will treat the basic cause of the jaundice, bearing the woman’s pregnancy in mind:

Hepatitis A: If pregnant women suffer from Hepatitis A, they may not need any treatment as the symptoms usually go away on their own.


Malaria: When women suffer from jaundice as a side-effect of malaria, your doctor will suggest the right treatment to you.

Other medical conditions: If jaundice that occurs during pregnancy is due to liver cancer, cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis, it would need immediate treatment.

The treatment given to pregnant women with jaundice will depend largely on the kind of jaundice they have, its seriousness and cause. This could include dealing with an underlying condition like malaria and other jaundice symptoms, like itching.

Genetic conditions like sickle cell anaemia can be treated with a blood transfusion to regenerate red blood cells in the body.

If the bile duct is blocked, it could demand an operation to open it up again. While these procedures are underway, care is taken to prevent any further problems, like removing the gallbladder.

If the liver is seriously damaged, a liver transplant could be done.


Read More: Must Have Vaccines During Your Pregnancy

Home remedies

For those who want to take the gentler route to treatment, here are some home remedies to treat jaundice during pregnancy:

  • Eat sufficient amounts of papaya two or three times a day. The enzyme, pectin contained in papaya, helps recover from jaundice.
  • Soak a few almond kernels in water overnight. Peel them and grind them to a paste and then eat them. Eat them along with dried dates and cardamom powder after soaking them in water overnight.
  • Juice a couple of tomatoes and then add salt and pepper to it and drink it every morning. Lycopene contained in tomatoes can reduce liver damage and stimulate faster recovery.

Read More: Home Remedies for Yeast Infection During Pregnancy


Jaundice during pregnancy may be a serious condition, but if they receive immediate medical attention, they can have an easier delivery.