Dr Rallie McAllister, MPH, coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth, shares some of her top reasons to make the call.
Itching seems to come with the territory when you're pregnant, but there's a limit to the scratchy madness. Sometimes a simple antihistamine can take care of the problem, but persistent and excessive itching could be cause for concern. "This is often caused by a condition called cholestasis, in which bile acids can build up in the liver and spill over into the maternal bloodstream," says Dr McAllister. "Cholestasis generally happens in the last trimester, when hormones are at their peak. The itching is often on the hands or feet, but some women itch all over."
Surprisingly, one in 10 pregnant women suffers from major depression. If you are overwhelmed with sadness, can't sleep or eat, or are plagued by negative thoughts, make the call. "Moms-to-be with depression have more cases of placental abruption and pre-eclampsia," says Dr McAllister. "Babies born to depressed mothers might have lower birth weights or are more likely to be born prematurely."
Pre-eclampsia is a potentially dangerous condition that can affect both mother and child. Swelling can be a sign of this condition, so if you notice that your feet, hands or face are swollen, call your doctor or midwife. "It's especially important to call if the swelling is accompanied by other symptoms of pre-eclampsia such as blurred vision, says Dr McAllister. Other possible signs include headaches, nausea, sudden weight gain and protein in your urine.
Your water breaks
It's not uncommon for pregnant women to have slight bladder-control issues, which could lead to an occasional leak of urine. But if you find that your underwear is wet or feel a gush that is not urine, the liquid could be amniotic fluid. "If you think that your water has broken, call your doctor or midwife right away," says Dr McAllister. He or she can help you determine whether the liquid is amniotic fluid and instruct you on your next steps.
More tips for the third trimester