Miscarriage signs and symptoms

Find out more about common signs and symptoms of miscarriage and where to seek help if you need it.  If you think you are having a miscarriage right now, we have have more help and advice here.

On this page:

Vaginal bleeding

Stomach pain or cramping

Other miscarriage symptoms

Seeking urgent help


Vaginal bleeding

Light bleeding during early pregnancy (in the first 12 weeks) can be quite common. It's not always a sign of miscarriage. But if you have any bleeding at any point in your pregnancy you should contact your GP or your midwife (if you have started your antenatal care) straight away. 

Bleeding from your vagina can be symptom of miscarriage. This varies from light spotting or brown discharge to a bleed that may be heavier than your normal period. You can read more about bleeding and spotting in pregnancy here.  

Use a clean sanitary pad or period pants. Do not use tampons, menstrual cups or anything you put inside your vagina. This can increase the risk of infection.

If you can, make a note of what the bleeding is like so you can tell your doctor, nurse or midwife. Think about how much there is, and whether there are any big lumps or clots.

If you are bleeding heavily, and/or in pain, call NHS 111 or go straight to your nearest Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU).  


Taking progesterone in early pregnancy

You may be prescribed progesterone if you are bleeding in early pregnancy (before 12 weeks) and have had a miscarriage before. Find out more about taking progesterone in early pregnancy.


Stomach pain or cramping

It's not unusual to have some pain and light cramps in the stomach area in early pregnancy. You may experience mild stomach pain as your womb expands and your bump grows. Hormones, constipation and trapped wind can also cause discomfort. 

However, cramping and pain in your lower stomach or back may also be a sign of miscarriage. If you have any concerns about any pains, or if you just feel something is wrong, contact your GP, midwife or nearest EPU straight away. You can also call NHS 111 any time. 

Don't worry about wasting anyone’s time. It’s always best to get things checked out.  

Find out more about stomach pain in pregnancy.  


Other miscarriage symptoms

Other signs or symptoms of miscarriage are:

  • gush of fluid from your vagina
  • tissue coming from your vagina (this may look lumpy or stringy)
  • a sudden loss of pregnancy symptoms, such as feeling sick and tender breasts (although these symptoms may also lessen or go away after the first trimester).


Seeking urgent help

You should seek urgent help from NHS 111 or your GP or midwife if you have any of the following symptoms:  

  • severe stomach (tummy) pain
  • vaginal bleeding or a brown watery discharge at the same time as pain
  • pain in your shoulder tip (where your shoulder meets your arm)
  • diarrhoea and vomiting
  • feeling very faint and lightheaded, or fainting. 

 Call 999 for an ambulance or visit your nearest A&E department if you:  

  • have sharp, sudden and intense stomach pains  
  • feel very dizzy or faint  
  • feel sick  
  • look very pale. 

These symptoms could mean you have an ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg implants outside your womb (usually in one of your fallopian tubes). You will still have a positive pregnancy test. You may not realise your pregnancy is ectopic at first. 

An ectopic pregnancy can be life threatening. It is important you get treatment quickly, especially if you have more than 1 of these symptoms at once. 

NHS (2022), Ectopic pregnancy symptoms. www.nhs.uk/conditions/ectopic-pregnancy/symptoms (Page last reviewed: 23/08/2022 Next review due: 23/08/2025)

NHS (2022) Miscarriage. Available at www.nhs.uk/conditions/miscarriage (Accessed 24 January 2024) (Page last reviewed: 09/03/2022 Next review due: 09/03/2025)

Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (2023) Bleeding in early pregnancy. Available at www.rwt.nhs.uk/PIL/MI_6554714_07.09.23_V_2_Public.pdf (Accessed 24 January 2024) (Page last reviewed: 07/09/2023 Next review due: 01/09/2026)

Coomarasamy, A., et al. (2019). ‘A Randomized Trial of Progesterone in Women with Bleeding in Early Pregnancy’. The New England journal of medicine, 380(19), 1815–1824. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa1813730 

NHS (2021) Common health problems in pregnancy. Available at: www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/related-conditions/common-symptoms/common-health-problems/ (Accessed 24 January 2024) (Page last reviewed: 08/03/2021 Next review due: 08/03/2024)

Harville EW et al. (2003) ‘Vaginal bleeding in very early pregnancy’. Human Reproduction. Volume 18, Issue 9, 1 September 2003, Pages 1944–1947 

Review dates
Reviewed: 08 February 2024
Next review: 08 February 2027