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Pregnancy | Prenatal Care

When To Call The Doctor

Most pregnant women will tell you that they’ve had some doubts about when to call their doctor. Some live with the phone glued to their ear – making good use of their doctors’ helpful receptionists who can more often than not answer all types of neurotic questions. Others are pretty relaxed and seldom feel the urge to pick up the phone. Although there is no you-should-only-call-when-this-happens list to follow when you are pregnant, here’s a general guide to give you an idea of when it’s necessary that you do make that call.


Burning or pain when urinating
When you experience pain or a burning sensation when urinating, accompanied by cloudy urine and a strong odour, call your doctor. These symptoms can indicate a bladder infection – which should be treated soonest.

You might be aware of slight contractions during your second trimester; a tug-and-pull sensation. You know your body and should know when these contractions are getting more intense and not the norm.

Decrease in foetal movement

All babies are different, and the same goes for their movement. If you experience a drastic change in movement, get on the phone as soon as possible and have it checked out – even if it’s just for your peace of mind. Phone if you experience the absence of fetal movement for 24 hours after week 20, and fewer than 10 fetal movements per hour after week 28.


This can be due to a folic acid or iron deficiency, and can impair the oxygen supply to the placenta. Signs of anemia can be breathlessness, poor appetite, fatigue, dizziness, palpitations etc.

Excessive vomiting
In serious cases you may need to be admitted to hospital. Phone your doctor right away if you are experiencing excessive vomiting.

Most women experience some swelling during their third trimester, and rest assured that this is pretty normal. If the swelling is excessive and you are suddenly gaining a lot of weight, have abdominal pain, severe headaches and blurry vision, do contact your doctor urgently. These symptoms might indicate preclampsia (high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine) which could put mom and baby at risk.

Severe abdominal pain

Get medical attention if you’ve had an accident or fall, experience sudden abdominal pain on one or both sides, or severe upper-mid-abdominal pain that just isn’t the norm. It can indicate the start of labour, a urinary tract infection or preeclampsia.

When this happens, call your doctor the same day:

  • Severe abdominal pain that doesn’t light up
  • Vaginal spotting (bleeding)
  • Bleeding from the rectum or nipples
  • Swelling of hands, face and eyes
  • A severe headache that continues for more than 2-3 hours
  • Rapid weight gain not related to food indulgence
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Fainting or dizziness

We somehow expect pregnancy to be a lovely journey that will take us to the brink of motherhood. Although the journey is absolutely mind blowing, there will always be aches and pains that freak us out a bit. When in doubt, pick up the phone and call your doctor. Because it’s important that you, the mommy, is well rested and at peace.


  • H. E. Murkoff, A. Eisenberg & S. E. Hathaway: What to expect, when you’re expecting. 2002: Third Edition: Pocket Books, UK
  • Baby R Us

One Response to “When To Call The Doctor”


    I just read the article on when to call the doctor, I am 14 weeks pregnant and somehow I just don’t feel pregnant. I don’t know if that’s normal. My Boyfriend thinks i should see a doctor, but I am a bit reluctant because I feel fine. This is my second pregnancy, so sometimes I think I should know better.

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