Navigating Medical Emergencies: A Guide by Dr. Stephanie Melka

By on May 2, 2024

What to Do During Pregnancy Emergencies

The Healthful Woman podcast host and maternal-fetal medicine specialist Dr. Fox invited Dr. Stephanie Melka, OB/GYN, to discuss what constitutes an emergency scenario in pregnancy that requires immediate medical attention in the podcast episode “Nights and Weekends: How do I know if it is an emergency?” Discover more about pregnancy emergencies, how to determine if a situation is an emergency, and when to visit a hospital in this Maternal Fetal Medicines Blog.

Calling Your Obstetrician

During pregnancy, it can be difficult to sense whether a scenario is an emergency. Dr Fox expresses, “If you’re pregnant and something is going on, and you’re about to head to the hospital, it is important to call your obstetrician.” If you’re unsure about an emergency but a doctor or midwife has a concern, it is important to call. There are a lot of things that a phone call can mean. You will not necessarily be sent to the hospital, and in some cases, you may be triaged. If you do not know whether to call, you should call. 

Early Pregnancy

If you are pregnant in your first trimester, emergency calls can include bleeding, pain, nausea, and vomiting. Bleeding can be a significant emergency or can be non-serious. During heavy or hemorrhage bleeding where an individual is soaking through multiple pads is very important to come in. If a patient has an ectopic pregnancy, the bleeding risk is serious.  Bleeding with pain should be seen during the night or on weekends when the office is typically closed. 

Nausea and vomiting are uncommon emergency calls and should be taken more seriously. Patients experiencing difficulty keeping any food down, who are dehydrated, or fainting should visit an office. 

Second Trimester

Pain, bleeding, and lack of fetal movement after 23 or 24 weeks are standard emergency calls during the second trimester.

Third trimester

Lack of fetal movement in the third trimester is severe. To induce movement, your doctor may immediately recommend drinking something cold and sweet, eating chocolate, and sitting in a quiet room with your hands on your abdomen to sense movement. If the case has occurred when you have not felt movement all day, you are encouraged to go into the office right away. It is considered an obstetrical emergency if you do not feel the baby moving. 

After Birth

After giving birth, it is essential to contact your doctor if you are experiencing heavy bleeding, severe pain, headaches, and fevers. 

When to Call Your Doctor

It is essential to go into a medical office immediately if you are experiencing severe pain and can’t sleep. Pregnant women typically become more uncomfortable at the end of the day. If you are dehydrated or cramping, it is essential to hydrate, sit, and try to sleep. Dr. Melka expresses, “If you fall asleep, you’re not going to wake up with a baby in the bed because you slept through contractions. For example, if you can fall asleep, that’s a good sign. This isn’t an emergency but hydrate, try and rest. If the pain is keeping you up, call me back. We’ll send you in.”

Contractions and Hospitalization

Knowing when contractions are emergent is extremely important during pregnancy. Dr. Fox states, “Generally, people do get contractions in the second and third trimester, as long as they’re sort of sporadic, not particularly painful, they come, and they go, you know, here and there, they go away with rest, then that’s not something that’s going to be preterm labor. But generally, if they’re getting closer together, they’re getting stronger, they’re not going away.” Also, if your water breaks, it is crucial to call your doctor. It is essential to let your doctor know about contractions, water breaking, the baby not moving, and bleeding. 

Learn More

To learn more about women’s health, listen to the Healthful Woman podcast hosted by Dr. Fox. Remember to seek guidance from your physician or gynecologist to discuss your options.

Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions regarding your condition so you can receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!

Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!

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