8 Good Reasons to Call Your Doctor During Pregnancy

When and how to call your doctor if you experience these symptoms.

Doctor consulting with pregnant woman
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It's the middle of the night and something feels weird. You have a new ache or pain....  the baby is moving a lot -- or not enough... you think your water might be breaking -- or not.  Should you call the doctor? Go to the hospital? Call 911?

It's normal to have odd sensations during pregnancy, and it's normal to worry. Most of the time, you're just experiencing the normal changes that occur when a new life is growing inside you.

Tendons stretch, you become unusually tired, you may have intense mood swings... and you can chalk it up to impending motherhood. 


Sometimes, however, things do go wrong. When that happens, it's smart to take immediate action. These 8 symptoms should send you directly to your doctor, and, in some cases, to the hospital.

  1. Bleeding
    If you experience any bleeding or spotting, call your doctor or midwife immediately.
  2. Pain
    Sharp, one-sided pain, or intense pain that does not go away with movement needs immediate attention. Minor aches and pains can wait until the morning or your next office visit.
  3. Contractions
    Before you are 37 weeks pregnant you need to call your midwife or doctor immediately if you have contractions more frequently than 10 minutes apart.
  4. Gush of Fluid
    If you have a gush of fluid at any point, it's an immediate call to your midwife or doctor.
  5. Baby Moving
    Babies wake and sleep, so you shouldn't expect constant movement. A significant decrease in your baby's movements, however, should be reported right away.
  1. Sudden/Severe Headache
    If you have sudden or severe headaches that are out of context for you, call your doctor or midwife within 24 hours.
  2. Swelling
    Some swelling is normal in pregnancy. Anything that is sudden or doesn't go away after a night of rest needs to be reported to your practitioner.
  3. Questions
    Things that come up between visits but are not urgent can wait until morning or your next regular office visit.

    What to Say When You Call

    When you call your doctor or midwife you need to be ready to provide relevant data. Have the following information available:

    • Name
    • Due date
    • Last Menstrual Period
    • Symptoms you are experiencing (pain, bleeding, fluid, temperature, etc.)
    • How long you've been having these symptoms
    • Name of your doctor or midwife
    • Hospital closest to you
    • Pharmacy name and number

    Calling During Office Hours

    When you call during office hours you will usually talk to the receptionist first. You may ask to speak to the nurse who works with your doctor or midwife to be sure that your practitioner gets the message. It is also helpful because this nurse will generally be more likely to know you and your status than the receptionist.

    Calling After Office Hours

    Calling your practitioner after hours can be disconcerting. Generally, you will talk to the answering service first. Their job is to screen the calls and then route your call to the on-call practitioner. This may not be your doctor or midwife. Usually, they will return your call within five minutes.

    If they do not return your call in five minutes, call back.

    If you are experiencing a life threatening emergency, go to the emergency room and have them alert your practitioner.

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