Call The Midwife’s Helen George says dangerous pregnancy led to early delivery

Helen George

Call The Midwife star, Helen George, has revealed her baby was delivered earlier than anticipated because she was battling a life-threatening liver condition during late pregnancy.

Dangerous liver condition

Helen and partner – and Call The Midwife co-star – Jack Ashton, are parents to a daughter, Wren Ivy.  Helen gave birth 10 weeks ago, three weeks shy of her due date, and she’s just shared a bit more about why her early delivery was necessary.

“My baby was delivered early because I developed a liver condition called ICP,” she told Event magazine.

ICP (intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy), which causes a terrible itch, is a group of liver disorders specific to pregnancy. These disorders interfere with the body’s natural flow of bile. When affected by ICP, the body’s cells are unable to move the bile out normally, causing bile acids to build up in the blood.

These high levels of bile in the blood put the unborn baby at a much higher risk of premature birth, distress, passing meconium in utero, respiratory distress syndrome, breathing failure and stillbirth.

Helen confirmed this, telling Event magazine: “The bile acids can actually pass into the baby through the placenta and have devastating effects. There’s a higher risk of stillbirth and it can lead to a very dangerous childbirth for the mother.”

Our little Wren Ivy

A post shared by Helen George (@helenrgeorge) on

Scratching until she bruised

Helen explained that a terrible itch signalled that something was awry, and she sought potentially life-saving treatment – resulting in baby Wren’s early delivery.

“The side effects [of ICP] are mainly a really strong sense of itching. I was scratching myself so much I had bruises all over my body. It’s awful.”

Blood tests revealed the dire situation and Helen gave birth two days after being diagnosed with ICP.

“It’s that quick,” she revealed. Baby Wren is now thriving, thanks to her mum’s vigilance and a medical team’s speedy action. She’s now patron for an organisation that supports ICP families and funds research into the condition.

“I am delighted to be a Patron for ICP Support and promote their work. When I was diagnosed with ICP I was confident that the hospital looking after me knew how to look after me and my unborn baby because they conduct research into the condition,” Helen said.

“I realise that not all women will receive the same kind of care that I did because not all hospitals know as much about it as mine do. That’s why I want to help ICP Support raise awareness of ICP and ensure that women have access to the charity’s in-depth knowledge of the condition as well as the great support that they provide.”

10 weeks ago I gave birth to my beautiful daughter. Wren was born 3 weeks early because I was suffering from a condition called ICP, but I wasn't in the least bit worried. I was surrounded by the most wonderful midwives. Their unfaltering care and support got me through those early days. I learnt recently that 1 in 3 midwives feel undervalued; it made me feel really sad that these people, who do such an amazing and worthwhile job, feel this way. That’s why this Christmas I’m joining @pampersworld in asking mums and dads to thank their midwife for the amazing jobs that they do. Please do share your thank yous’ and for every story shared with #ThankYouMidwife, on Facebook (PampersUKIre), Twitter (@Pampers_UK) or Instagram (@pampersworld), Pampers will donate £1 to the Benevolent Fund of the @midwives_rcm which will be used to support midwives in need through the festive season and beyond. #ad

A post shared by Helen George (@helenrgeorge) on

Call the midwife

Helen’s using her profile and new mum status to make a difference in other areas of maternal health too. She’s campaigning to help ensure all midwives are commended and valued for the work they do. 

“Ten weeks ago I gave birth to my beautiful daughter,” Helen posted on her Instagram account. “Wren was born 3 weeks early because I was suffering from a condition called ICP, but I wasn’t in the least bit worried. I was surrounded by the most wonderful midwives.”

“Their unfaltering care and support got me through those early days. I learnt recently that 1 in 3 midwives feel undervalued; it made me feel really sad that these people, who do such an amazing and worthwhile job, feel this way.”

She urged other mums to share their positive stories about midwives, accompanied by the hashtag #ThankYouMidwife, in a push to raise awareness for the wonderful work midwives do – and in the hopes of raising funds to support a midwives’ Benevolent Fund.


We’re inspired by the work Helen’s undertaking, so glad that little Wren is doing well and busting to see the next season of Call The Midwife (and the Christmas special) too!

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