When to Call Your Doctor Between Prenatal Visits

Pregnancy is a joyous time, as well as a life-changing, nine-month journey filled with many questions. With a precious baby on the way, you may have lots of concerns as the months roll by. Is my morning sickness typical? Why does it hurt when I pee? Is my baby squirming and kicking as much as he or she did last week?

What's normal? What might be a cause for concern? You don't want to bother your doctor for every little thing, but how do you know when to call between visits? If you have a concern, a quick call to your doctor may help ease your mind. But if you're not sure, these guidelines can help you know when you should call your doctor between prenatal visits.

Possible Pregnancy-Related Health Problems

Problems can occur during pregnancy, even in healthy women who least expect them. Certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure and gestational diabetes, often have no symptoms. Your doctor tests you for these and other health problems during your prenatal visits in order to diagnose and treat them early on.

Moms-to-be also may develop more common infections like the flu, a urinary tract infection, or bacterial vaginosis (BV), a type of vaginal infection. All of these infections have been linked to premature labor, so it's crucial to seek treatment. In fact, the flu can make a pregnant woman ill enough to require hospital care.

These health problems have warning signs that you should bring to your doctor's attention. For example, if you have a urinary tract infection, you may feel pain and burning when you pee. With a vaginal infection, there's sometimes a strong tip-off: a bad-smelling discharge.

Call Your Doctor if You Have These Symptoms

Be aware of your body. If you notice any of the following symptoms, tell your doctor right away. Don't wait for your next appointment.

  • A fever higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit or chills
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Dizziness or fainting spells
  • Pain, burning, or difficulty urinating
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Unusual vaginal discharge (for example, a gray or whitish discharge with a foul, fishy odor)
  • Swelling in your face, hands, or fingers
  • Blurred vision or spots before your eyes
  • Sore, cracked, or bleeding nipples
  • Severe or long-lasting headaches
  • Pain or cramping in your arms, legs, or chest

Continued

The following symptoms may indicate a more serious problem. Call your doctor immediately if you notice:

  • Unusual or severe pelvic cramping or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty breathing or worsening shortness of breath
  • A decrease in your baby's movements after 28 weeks (for example, if you count fewer than 10 movements within two hours)
  • Signs of premature labor:

Of course, you can't control the unexpected during your pregnancy. But you can work with your doctor to keep watch for unusual symptoms. That way, if problems arise, you'll be sure to get the best care for you and your baby.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on January 17, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Rebecca Starck, MD, obstetrician-gynecologist; department chair, regional obstetrics and gynecology, Cleveland Clinic.

Womenshealth.gov: "Pregnancy Complications."

Cleveland Clinic: "When to Call Your Health Care Provider During Pregnancy."

© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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