Incomplete miscarriage

An incomplete miscarriage is when a miscarriage begins, but some of your baby’s remains or other pregnancy tissue stays in the womb.

If your miscarriage takes a long time, it can be even harder to process and grieve for your loss. We hope this page gives you some helpful information and support options to help you through.

On this we page talk about your baby’s body as well as pregnancy tissue. Most people we talk to have told us this is the language they prefer. If this isn’t right for you, we’re sorry. We hope this information will still be useful.

On this page

Signs of an incomplete miscarriage

Your options and decisions after an incomplete miscarriage

Support after miscarriage

Signs of an incomplete miscarriage

You may have been waiting for your baby’s remains and pregnancy tissue to pass. Or you may have taken medication or had surgery to help. If you have any of the symptoms below, you may have some of your baby’s remains or pregnancy tissue left in your womb.  

  • Bleeding that carries on and doesn’t settle down over a few weeks, or doesn’t feel right.
  • Passing blood clots (these can be very large).
  • Stomach pain that keeps getting worse or doesn’t settle down after a few days, (it may feel like cramps or contractions).
  • A raised temperature (fever) and flu-like symptoms.
  • Unexpected heavy bleeding – you have to change a heavy sanitary pad more than every hour for more than a few hours.

Get medical help straight away if you have any of these symptoms. Contact your GP, NHS 111 or your nearest Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit (EPAU). If the bleeding is very heavy, or you are in lots of pain then go to Accident and Emergency (A&E).

Your options and decisions after an incomplete miscarriage

There are different ways that the remains of your baby and pregnancy tissue they can be removed from your womb. This is sometimes called ‘management of miscarriage’.  

There are 3 options available:

The options are very similar to the ones for a missed miscarriage. The only difference is that, if you choose medical management, you would only be offered 1 medication (misoprostol) rather than 2. This is because your miscarriage has already started.

Your doctor should talk with you about what may be the best option for you. You should be given some time for the diagnosis to sink in and to think about what you want to do.  You may find it helpful to look at our decision aid.

How you are treated is your choice. However, you may be advised to have surgery immediately if there are any problems, such as infection.

“It's OK to take your time over making a decision. You may have a gut feeling about how to manage the miscarriage, you may not. Talk through your options with the medical professionals. I know they are incredibly busy, but we needed and wanted answers. I phoned the number we were given after our second missed miscarriage and asked all the questions I had. This helped us make a decision.”

Support after miscarriage

You are not alone. There are lots of organisations that can provide advice and support.

If you’re worried that you or your partner (if you have one) are struggling to cope after a miscarriage, 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. You can call them on 0800 0147 800, 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday. Or you can email them at [email protected]. Our midwives are specialists who can support you with any aspect of pregnancy loss that would be helpful for you.  

Find out more about support after a miscarriage.  

Clinical Knowledge Summary. Miscarriage. Last revised October 2023. (Accessed Dec 2023)

Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (2016) Early miscarriage

Ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage: diagnosis and initial management
NICE guideline [NG126]Published: 17 April 2019 Last updated: 23 August 2023 (Accessed Dec 2023)

Quenby S, Coomarasamy A et al. Mifepristone and misoprostol versus misoprostol alone for the management of missed miscarriage (MifeMiso): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet. 2020 Sep 12;396(10253):770-778. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31788-8. Epub 2020 Aug 24. PMID: 32853559; PMCID: PMC7493715.

Review dates
Reviewed: 14 February 2024
Next review: 14 February 2027