Pregnant women sometimes get flustered when they have to call the on-call doctor at night because they don’t want to bother him/her. Trust me, doctors would rather be bothered than miss something.

That being said, there’s a “proper” way to contact the on-call doctor.

Below are a Few Ground Rules to Help Keep Things Simpatico:

1. Know the Practice’s On-Call Digits: Know what number to call and discuss the on-call protocol with your doctor early on in your pregnancy.

2. Give the Doctor a Moment to Wake Up: If it’s late at night, the doctor may be asleep when you call and need a moment or two to get oriented.

3. Fill in the Details: Remember that the on-call doctor may not have access to your chart at home. Therefore, it helps to provide him/her with some background info. In addition to wanting to know the reason for your call, the doctor will be interested in the following:

  • Your medical history (namely any chronic medical issues, sexually transmitted diseases, etc. that you may have).
  • How “far along” you are (i.e. what week of pregnancy you’re in).
  • How many babies are in your belly (one or more?).
  • Whether you’ve had any complications during your pregnancy.
  • Any allergies that you might have.
  • A list of medications (including vitamins and herbal supplements) that you’re taking.

4. Expect the Doctor to Want You to be Seen: It can be hard to diagnose pregnancy problems over the phone, so be prepared for the on-call doctor to want you to be seen in the ER that night or in the office the next day.

5. Don’t Forget the Middleman (or Middlewoman): This one is ticky-tack, but if you get disconnected from the doctor at any point during the call, ring the answering service again instead of calling the doctor back on his/her personal number. Sometimes doctors forget to block their numbers and have patients calling them willy-nilly throughout the night (vs. going through the proper channels).

Bonus Tip: Make sure to have your ringer on when the doctor calls you back! 

The Bottom Line

Don’t hesitate to call the on-call doctor if you have any questions or concerns outside of regular business hours. If this is your first pregnancy, it can be hard to tell what’s normal. In this case, you may be calling your doctor AND the on-call doctor a LOT and that’s ok!