Types of miscarriage

There are several types of miscarriage, which happen at different stages of pregnancy. We still don’t understand why every miscarriage happens, but for those we do, doctors may use a particular term. The type of miscarriage may give you and your doctors more information about why it may have happened.

Early miscarriage

Early miscarriage is when a pregnancy is lost in the first 3 months (first trimester) of pregnancy. This is the most common type of miscarriage.

Late miscarriage 

Late miscarriage is when a pregnancy is lost after 12 weeks (first trimester) but before 24 weeks. About 1–2% of pregnancies end in a late miscarriage.


Stillbirth is the loss of a pregnancy after 24 weeks. It happens in approximately 0.5% of births in England.

Complete miscarriage

A complete miscarriage is when the pregnancy tissues comes away from your womb completely and there is no need for medical intervention.

Incomplete miscarriage

An incomplete miscarriage is when a miscarriage begins, but not all of the pregnancy come away. Find out about the signs of an incomplete miscarriage and how this type of miscarriage will be managed.

Missed miscarriage (also known as a silent or delayed miscarriage)

Sometimes, women don’t have any symptoms of a miscarriage, but it will be diagnosed during a routine ultrasound scan during your antenatal care. This is called a missed or delayed miscarriage.

Chemical pregnancy

A chemical pregnancy is when a pregnancy ends in miscarriage before 5 weeks of pregnancy. The pregnancy may be confirmed by a blood test or a home pregnancy test but is not yet visible on an ultrasound scan. Learn more about chemical pregnancy.

Molar pregnancy

A molar pregnancy is when a fetus doesn’t form properly in the womb. It is a very rare complication of pregnancy. Find out more about molar pregnancy.

Recurrent miscarriage

Recurrent miscarriage is when a miscarriage happens 3 or more times in a row. This is very rare, affecting 1% of couples.

Ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy where the baby develops outside the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. This happens in approximately 1% of pregnancies.

Medical terms can be confusing. We have a list of medical descriptions in our list of miscarriage terminology.

Your emotional health

Miscarriage can be devastating. You may be struggling with grief, anxiety and shock, but you do not need to go through this alone. There are lots of organisations that can provide advice and support.

If you’re worried that you or your partner are struggling to cope after losing a baby, please talk to your GP. They will be able to help you get the support you need.

You can also talk to a Tommy’s midwife for free from 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday on 0800 0147 800 or you can email them at [email protected]. Our midwives are trained in bereavement support and will be able to talk to you about what you're going through.

Find out more about support after a miscarriage.

Miscarriage statistics

For many women, a miscarriage may have happened so early that they weren’t aware that they were pregnant. Read our miscarriage statistics for more information, including the statistics related to age.

Find out more about the causes of a miscarriage.

Find out more about how common miscarriage is.

NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries. Miscarriage https://cks.nice.org.uk/miscarriage (Page last reviewed: May 2018 Next review due: December 2023)

Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (2016) Early miscarriage https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/patient-information-leaflets/pregnancy/pi-early-miscarriage.pdf

Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (2010) Late Intrauterine Fetal Death and Stillbirth https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/gtg_55.pdf

NHS Choices. Miscarriage. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/miscarriage/ (Page last reviewed: 01/06/2018 Next review due: 01/06/2021)

Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (2012) Recurrent and late miscarriage: tests and treatment of couples https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/patient-information-leaflets/pregnancy/pi-recurrent-and-late-miscarriage---tests-and-treatment-of-couples.pdf

NICE (2019). Ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage: diagnosis and initial management. National Institute for health and care excellence https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng126

Review dates
Reviewed: 10 February 2020
Next review: 10 February 2023

This content is currently being reviewed by our team. Updated information will be coming soon.