When to Call Your Doctor, Midwife or Labor & Delivery

Please call immediately if you experience any of the following. This page is part of the Labor & Delivery FAQ.

UC San Diego Labor & Delivery phone numbers:

  • If you are the patient of a physician, call 619-543-6600.
  • If you are the patient of a midwife, call 619-299-6667.

Extreme vomiting

Most cases of morning sickness are annoying, but not harmful. However, if you’re throwing up so much that you can’t keep liquids down or if you’re not urinating, you need to let your health care provider know right away. This can lead to severe dehydration, which isn’t good for you or your baby. It could also be a sign that you’re suffering from an extreme form of morning sickness, called hyperemesis gravidarum – a type, which can last throughout pregnancy. You should also call if you haven’t been able to keep food down for two days straight, if you have food poisoning or, if in addition to the vomiting, you also have a high fever. In these more extreme cases, you may need to go to the hospital to receive IV fluids.

Intense abdominal pain

If you’re less than 12 weeks pregnant and are experiencing sharp cramps on one side of your stomach and haven’t had an ultrasound yet, your health care provider will want to rule out the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when the egg has implanted itself in the fallopian tube instead of in the uterus. Later on in your pregnancy, you should call if pain is intense or recurrent, since there could be many different potential causes, ranging from contractions to appendicitis.

Contractions or large amounts of watery discharge

If you’re near the end of your pregnancy, watery discharge probably means your water has broken, so call your doctor and head to the hospital right away. If you suddenly experience significant amounts of watery discharge any time before 37 weeks, call your health care provider immediately. It may be a sign that your amniotic sac has ruptured and you are going into preterm labor. Don’t immediately assume the worst – it may simply be urine – but be sure to call anyway just to double check. Contractions are another potential sign of preterm labor. If you suddenly start to feel them when you’re 24 to 36 weeks pregnant, call your health care provider. They could just be Braxton-Hicks contractions, but it’s best to call and make sure.

Vaginal bleeding

Any time you have vaginal bleeding, you should let your health care provider know. If you’re in your first 12 weeks of pregnancy, keep in mind that many women spot during the first trimester and bleeding doesn’t necessarily mean you’re having a miscarriage. Also keep in mind that if you have a vaginal exam, internal ultrasound or any other type of examination done inside the vagina, it is normal to see some blood-tinged mucus for about 24 hours after the test. In your second or third trimester, bleeding could mean you have a tear in your placenta or another problem that should be diagnosed by ultrasound. Do not panic or assume the worst – just be sure to call your health care provider as soon as possible.

Severe headache or swelling all over

If you get a headache in your first trimester or regularly suffer from migraines, it’s probably not a big deal. The same goes if you have some swelling in your ankles as your pregnancy progresses, as long as the swelling gets better when you rest and elevate your feet. If you suddenly experience a splitting headache in your second or third trimester, have changes in your vision or if your hands and face begin to swell significantly and the swelling does not go down, you could be suffering from preeclampsia, which is pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. Call your health care provider immediately if you experience these symptoms.

Lack of fetal movement (after 28 weeks)

If you haven’t felt much kicking for about an hour, there is no need to call right away. Instead, drink a glass of fruit juice. The natural sugars in juice will increase your baby’s blood sugar, making it more likely he or she will kick. Then, lie on your left side in a quiet room for half an hour. Turn everything off (no TV or music). If you don’t count three to four movements within the next 30 minutes, call your health care provider. It’s usually nothing problematic since babies have periods when they can be very still, but your health care provider will probably want you to have a stress test or an ultrasound done to make sure everything is okay.

Remember to trust yourself. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s always worth making a call to double check.