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6 Times You Probably Don’t Need to Call Your Doctor

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Updated February 16, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

It’s normal to have questions and concerns while you’re pregnant, especially if you’ve had a pregnancy loss before. How do you decide which question warrants a call to your doctor in the middle of the night and which ones can wait until your next clinic appointment - or at least until morning?

The simple answer is, if you feel anxious about what’s happening to you, it’s always better to call your provider. Below you’ll find a list of common concerns of pregnant women and learn a little more about the likely causes and when to worry.

This page is no substitute for medical advice, so always seek a doctor’s opinion if you have more questions. Remember, though, a simple call can usually give you the answers you need, and most pregnancy concerns don’t need to take you to the emergency room. Your provider will tell you if you need immediate medical attention.

1. You’ve had a few contractions.

Unfortunately, cramping and contractions are a part of every pregnancy. Every woman experiences them differently, and there are a lot of variables that affect them, even for the same woman. In the first trimester, you’ll most likely experience some cramping as your uterus begins to grow. As you move through pregnancy, you’ll probably have Braxton-Hicks contractions, which can be quite painful at times. They may even have a pattern from time to time, but contractions usually aren’t anything to worry about unless they happen six times in an hour or are very painful.

If you have contractions accompanied by bleeding or a gush of clear fluid or if you feel an urge to bear down or push with your contractions - you should call your doctor and go to the hospital for assessment.

2. You’re sick or you’ve been around someone sick.

Photo © David Lat

There are a number of infections that are associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death. But just because you’ve got a bit of a cold doesn’t mean your pregnancy is at risk. Pregnant women need to take great care of themselves when they’ve got a virus. Get lots of rest, plenty of fluids and use saline nose spray to help relieve congestion if you’ve got it. The same is true for gastrointestinal (GI) viruses. It may be miserable to have diarrhea or vomiting when you’re pregnant, but most GI viruses last only a day or two. You should be fine as long as you’re able to keep down small amounts of fluid throughout the day.

However, if you are sick and you have any of the following symptoms, call your doctor for instructions:

  • Fever greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit that doesn’t respond to acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Difficulty breathing and/or shortness of breath
  • Vomiting or diarrhea that lasts longer than three days
  • Inability to keep even water down
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Signs of dehydration

3. After having sex, you see a spot of blood in your underwear.

During pregnancy, your cervix goes through hormonal and physical changes that may allow it to bleed more easily. Some women have small amounts of bleeding any time their cervix is disturbed while pregnant, such as after a transvaginal ultrasound or pelvic exam.

One of the more common causes of bleeding is sexual intercourse. It’s not unusual to see a small amount of bleeding on toilet paper or in your underwear if you’ve recently had sex. Bleeding may be pink, red or brown. It’s usually nothing to worry about and will go away on its own.

If you have a diagnosed placenta previa or vasa previa, however, you’ve probably already been advised not to put anything in your vagina while you’re pregnant. With these conditions, bleeding can be extremely dangerous to both mother and baby. Even women without a placental problem should contact their doctor if bleeding increases to a flow similar to your period or heavier.

4. You haven’t started feeling your baby move.

Photo © Steve Peixotto/Getty Images

The first time you feel your baby move is exciting, but it often can be hard to identify. Typically, women who have had babies before will feel movement earlier than first-time moms. If this is your first pregnancy, it’s not unusual to be well into your second trimester before you feel movement. If you haven’t felt any movement yet, it’s not necessarily a sign of anything wrong, no matter how far along you are. Some women have difficulty feeling movement throughout their pregnancy.

If you have already started to notice movement and it decreases or disappears suddenly, you should notify your doctor quickly. Decreased fetal movement is one of the signs of stillbirth and may require immediate treatment to prevent a fatal outcome for baby.

5. You’re at the same week you were when you miscarried last time.

Trying for another pregnancy after a loss is a difficult decision. Many women experience anxiety as they go through another pregnancy. They wonder if it will happen again and wish there was some way to prevent another miscarriage. While it’s true that some women who have recurrent miscarriages tend to have them at that same stage of pregnancy, if you’ve had only one loss, there is no reason to assume it will happen again at the same time in another pregnancy. Talk with your doctor during a regular visit about the cause of your first loss if it’s known and your chances of having another loss.

If you are experiencing any of the same symptoms as your last pregnancy loss, you should definitely contact your doctor.

6. You’ve had a positive pregnancy test, but you don’t have morning sickness.

Photo © Lesli Lundgren

Morning sickness may be awful, but some women appreciate it because they know that with morning sickness, they have a statistically lower chance of miscarriage. That doesn't mean you have to worry if you're one of the lucky women who don't experience nausea. Even if you had morning sickness earlier in your pregnancy and now it's gone, it doesn't mean your pregnancy is at risk. Morning sickness can change and usually goes completely away after the second trimester.

On the other hand, if you don't have morning sickness and you also have any of the signs of miscarriage, you should contact your provider.

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  6. 6 Times You Probably Don’t Need to Call Your Doctor

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