What are the symptoms of a miscarriage?

Miscarriage is very common, especially in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. About one in seven confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage, but one in four is the estimated total pregnancies that end in miscarriage. This takes into account women who weren’t aware they were pregnant.

The usual symptoms of a miscarriage are vaginal bleeding or discharge, sometimes accompanied by abdominal pain or backache – rather like period pain. The bleeding may last a few days or it may last two weeks or more. As well as bleeding similar to a heavy period, you may pass some tissue that looks different from a normal period. Some women may also notice that pregnancy symptoms such as nausea or sore breasts disappear.

Bleeding during pregnancy does not necessarily mean you are having a miscarriage, but call your GP or NHS Direct on 0845 4647 (NHS 24 Scotland 0845 42 42 424) for help and advice. If you are bleeding heavily, call an emergency ambulance or go to A&E, if you can. Once in hospital, you will probably have an examination and an ultrasound scan.

In some cases there are no symptoms of miscarriage, such as pain or bleeding. You may not discover that the foetus has died until you have your routine ultrasound scan.

It is common to have some light vaginal bleeding sometime in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This is called threatened miscarriage. Most women go on to have a healthy pregnancy but some women do subsequently have a miscarriage.

If you have very severe abdominal pain (that may be only on one side), call an ambulance or go to A&E, if you can. These may be the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy (that is developing outside the womb), which is a medical emergency.


NHS Choices

Published Date 2010-07-23

Last Review Date 2009-01-15

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