14 Reasons to Call the Doctor During Pregnancy

doctor talking to patient
Pregnancy can be a time of lots of questions, especially when it comes to your and your baby's health. Knowing what's safe and what's not—and when symptoms necessitate a call to your doctor is important. Here's a primer on when you should pick up the phone.
BananaStock/ Jupiter
BananaStock/ Jupiter

When should you call your doctor?

When should you try to manage your own pregnancy health ... and when should you reach out to your doctor? Trying to figure out what necessitates a late-night phone call can be difficult to discern. Let our guide help you figure it out!

If you experience any of the following ailments, be sure to pick up the phone right away.

Spotting or bleeding can be a scary symptom when you are pregnant. Here's what you should know.

Bleeding, fever, pain, and chills

Although a sensitive cervix can mean light spotting for many women during pregnancy (less than a dime-sized amount), moderate to heavy vaginal bleeding or any type -- of vaginal bleeding accompanied by fever, pain, and/or chills -- are all signs that you need to pick up the phone and dial your doctor immediately. Be sure to have your temperature handy and be ready to outline exactly how you feel when you call.

Headaches are relatively common in pregnancy, but sometimes they could mean something more serious. Find out how to tell when you need to consult a doctor.

Headache, fainting, and dizziness

Can't seem to shake a headache? If you find you're suffering from a severe and persistent headache -- especially if it is accompanied by fainting, dizziness, and/or blurred vision -- you should call your doctor. Find a good spot to sit down and rest and if you are feeling faint, have someone sit with you while you chat on the phone or wait for your doctor to return your call. Try drinking a bit of water (dehydration is often the cause of these symptoms) and lying on your left side.


Frequent and painful urination

Although frequent urination is a common complaint during pregnancy, burning and pain upon voiding your bladder is not. This symptom is the telltale sign of a bladder infection -- a common occurrence for many women, and especially uncomfortable during pregnancy. Be sure to contact your doctor right away if you have these symptoms to help prevent complications (which can include preterm labor and low birth weight babies). To prevent an infection, make sure you're drinking enough water, empty your bladder before and after intercourse, wear cotton undies, and try to avoid wearing leggings and hose.

Mom-to-bes can expect a fair amount of aches. Watch this trimester-specific guide on how to tell if your pain or cramping could be more serious.

Moderate to severe bouts of pelvic pain

Many moms-to-be experience a certain amount of pelvic pressure during pregnancy. However, severe and persistent pain (not just a twinge or ache) can be a sign of concern. If stretching, drinking water, or rest don't alleviate pain quickly, pick of the phone and dial your doctor (especially if the pain is accompanied by a fever).


Vomiting accompanied by fever or pain

Are you experiencing nausea that goes beyond typical morning sickness? Vomiting more than once a day, fever, and pain necessitate dialing your doctor's office. You could be experiencing a severe form of morning sickness, which can be alleviated by prescription medication. Although typical morning sickness poses no real harm to you or your baby, the inability to keep any food down and nausea that extends well into pregnancy is a problem your doctor will need to help you overcome.

A fever is always a pain, but it becomes even more of a problem when you have Baby to consider as well. See what you need to do if you start feeling feverish.

Chills or fever higher than 103 degrees

Running a fever is never fun -- but during pregnancy it can pose an additional health hazard to your baby. Your baby's growth and development depends on your body maintaining a steady and healthy temperature (around 98.6 degrees to 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Early in pregnancy, disruption of this can wreak havoc on your system and lead to a miscarriage. Later in your pregnancy, a higher temperature won't affect your baby too much. However, it may be a sign of infection or another issue that your doctor should be aware of.

Are you pregnant and worried about whether your discharge is normal? Here's how to know when you should be concerned.

Steady or heavy vaginal discharge of thin fluid

Are you in the downward stretch of your pregnancy? If so, a discharge could mean that your bag of waters has broken, in which case a trip to the hospital is in your immediate future. But if you experience a rush of liquid prior to your 37th week of pregnancy, you should call your doctor immediately. This could be assign of preterm later. If your discharge is accompanied by contractions -- that's another reason to ring your doctor right away.

Swelling is a common side effect of pregnancy as your due date gets closer. Learn how to get relief and when you need to call a doctor.

Sudden swelling of hands, feet, or face

If abruptly in your second or third trimester, or if your hands and face swell considerably, it may be a sign of more than just normal water retention. Preeclampsia, or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, is a serious pregnancy complication and requires an immediate visit with your doctor. (Another possible sign of preeclampsia that you should share with your doctor is sudden bouts of blurry vision.)

Your baby should be doing plenty of kicking in your uterus in the third trimester. If you're concerned your little one isn't moving as much as he should, here's when to worry.

Lack of fetal movement

Later in pregnancy, you'll begin to track your baby's movements by doing fetal kick counts. Most doctors recommend checking in with your growing baby a few times a day and looking for 10 movements within 10 minutes. If you try a count and don't feel any movement, drink a glass of fruit juice (the natural sugars boost baby's blood sugar and can get her moving), then lie on your left side in a quiet room for half an hour. If after a second try you don't feel any movement -- or if two hours pass without 10 movements, be sure to ring your health care practitioner.

istock/Jupiter Images
istock/Jupiter Images

Call within a day if you experience these symptoms

Call your doctor within a day if you experience:

* Moderate, persistent headache

* Any vaginal spotting or bleeding that lasts more than a day


Report these symptoms at your next check up

Tell your doctor at your next prenatal checkup if you experience:

* Slight spotting that goes away within a day

* Occasional twinges or pulling sensations in your abdominal area

* Occasional mild headaches

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