8 good reasons to call your doctor during pregnancy

One of the biggest fears pregnant women have is the fear that their baby is not OKay. But, says Dr Catherine Elliot, a general gynaecologist and obstetrician with a sub-speciality qualification in maternal foetal medicine and a specialist interest in high-risk pregnancies, most of the time, those tweaks and twinges you are feeling are just your body’s way of adjusting to the life developing inside of you. “Your internal organs move, tendons stretch and hormones flood your system,” she explains.

ALSO SEE: 8 ways your body changes during pregnancy

Dr Elliot says regular check-ups with your doctor or caregiver have been proven to help reduce the incidence of complications.

It’s important to listen to your body. Dr Elliot says severe complications often can’t be predicted. “If you feel unwell in any way or are worried, it’s important to get checked out immediately. Don’t wait until the next day. Problems can develop and occur very quickly,” she says.

ALSO SEE: 10 pregnancy warning signs to look out for

8 symptoms you shouldn’t ignore and when to call the doctor

  • If you have any bleeding or spotting, call your healthcare provider immediately.
  • Minor aches and pains can wait until morning. However, a sharp pain on your one side, or continuous pain that doesn’t release or decrease when you move, needs immediate medical attention.
  • A sudden or severe headache. This is of particular concern if you don’t usually experience headaches. Seek medical attention within 24 hours.

ALSO SEE: Dealing with headaches during pregnancy

  • If you experience contractions prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy, call your doctor or healthcare provider immediately, or go to your nearest hospital. If you are close to full-term and your contractions are coming in regular intervals, you should call your doctor. “Three to 10 minutes is usually a good guide,” says Dr Elliot.
  • If your water breaks, seek medical attention. “Even if you think it’s a slow trickle and you are not sure what it is,” says Dr Elliot.
  • Unusual or sudden swelling. Your body is sure to swell during pregnancy, but anything that is sudden, or doesn’t go away after a night’s rest, needs attention.
  • Even in the womb, your baby sleeps and wakes, so there won’t be constant movement. However, call your healthcare provider immediately if you experience a significant decrease in your baby’s movement. Dr Elliot adds that this applies to movement during labour, too.

ALSO SEE: When should my baby start kicking during pregnancy?

Things will happen and questions will come up during your pregnancy that should be attended to immediately. If this is the case, call your doctor’s emergency number for assistance.

Information your doctor will need when you call:

You or your partner may be a little shaken or distracted when you call – particularly if this is an emergency. Here is a quick glance at the kind of information you should provide:

  • Name and due date
  • Name of your doctor or midwife
  • Symptoms you are experiencing
  • How long you have been experiencing these symptoms
  • Hospital closest to you.

More about the expert:

Dr Catherine Elliott is in full time private practice as a general gynaecologist and obstetrician with a sub-specialty qualification in Maternal Fetal Medicine and special interest in high risk pregnancies. She specializes in the first trimester assessment and the nuchal translucency scan as well as the fetal anomaly ultrasound at 20-22 weeks, and in addition, the counselling and management of high risk pregnancies (maternal disease and fetal conditions) from preconception, through pregnancy, to delivery and postpartum. Learn more about Dr Catherine Elliott here.

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