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Pregnancy - When to Call a Doctor

At any time during pregnancy

At any time during your pregnancy, call your doctor or midwife immediately if you:

  • Have signs of preeclampsia, a potentially life-threatening condition, such as:
    • Sudden swelling of your face, hands, or feet.
    • Visual problems (such as dimness or blurring).
    • Severe headache.
  • Have pain, cramping, or fever with bleeding from the vagina.
  • Pass some tissue from the uterus.
  • Think or know you have a fever.
  • Vomit more than 3 times a day or are too nauseated to eat or drink, especially if you also have fever or pain.
  • Have an increase or gush of fluid from your vagina. It is possible to mistake a leak of amniotic fluid for a problem with bladder control.

At any time during your pregnancy, call your doctor or midwife today if you:

  • Notice sudden swelling of your face, hands, or feet.
  • Have anyvaginal bleeding or an increase in your usual amount of vaginal discharge.
  • Have pelvic pain that doesn't get better or go away.
  • Have itching all over your body (usually in the evenings at first, then throughout the day as well) with or without dark urine, pale stools, or yellowing of skin or eyes.
  • Have painful or frequent urination or urine that is cloudy, foul-smelling, or bloody.
  • Feel unusually weak.

Between 20 and 37 weeks

If you are between 20 and 37 weeks pregnant, call 911 or other emergency services immediately if you:

  • Experience severe vaginal bleeding.
  • Have severe abdominal (belly) pain.
  • Are in your third trimester and have had fluid gushing or leaking from your vagina (the amniotic sac has ruptured) AND you know or think the umbilical cord is bulging into your vagina (cord prolapse). If this happens, immediately get down on your knees so your buttocks are higher than your head to decrease pressure on the cord until help arrives. Cord prolapse can cut off the fetus's blood supply. (These measures apply to you if you are as early as 24 weeks pregnant.)

If you are between 20 and 37 weeks pregnant, call your doctor or midwife immediately or go to the hospital if you:

  • Have signs of preterm labor, including:
    • Mild or menstrual-like cramping with or without diarrhea.
    • Regular contractions for an hour. This means about 4 or more in 20 minutes, or about 8 or more in 1 hour, even after you have had a glass of water and are resting.
    • Unexplained low back pain or pelvic pressure.
  • Have noticed that your baby has stopped moving or is moving much less than normal. See Pregnancy: Kick Counts for information on how to check your baby's activity.
  • Have uterine tenderness or unexplained fever (possible symptoms of infection).

After 37 weeks

After 37 weeks, call 911 or other emergency services immediately if you:

  • Have had fluid gushing or leaking from your vagina (the amniotic sac has ruptured) AND you know or think the umbilical cord is bulging into your vagina (cord prolapse). If this happens, immediately get down on your knees so your buttocks are higher than your head to decrease pressure on the cord until help arrives. Cord prolapse can cut off the fetus's blood supply. (These measures apply to you if you are as early as 24 weeks pregnant.)

After 37 weeks of pregnancy, call your doctor or midwife immediately or go the hospital if you:

  • Have vaginal bleeding (for light spotting, you can call at any time on the same day).
  • Have had regular contractions for an hour. This means about 4 or more in 20 minutes, or about 8 or more within 1 hour.
  • Have a sudden release of fluid from the vagina.
  • Notice that the baby has stopped moving or is moving much less than normal. See Pregnancy: Kick Counts for information on how to check your baby's activity.

For more information about problems during pregnancy, see the topic Pregnancy-Related Problems.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 23, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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