Miscarriage - information and support

Going through a miscarriage can be a very sad, scary or lonely experience. We hope our information answers any questions you have during this difficult time.

What is a miscarriage?

A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy during the first 24 weeks. Sadly, miscarriages are a common complication, with most miscarriages happening in the first 3 months of pregnancy (first trimester) .

Losing a baby is a deeply personal experience that affects people differently. No matter when in your pregnancy you miscarry, you may need support to help you come to terms with what’s happened.

Tommy’s is here to help you. You can talk to a Tommy’s midwife for free, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. You can call them on 0800 0147 800 or email [email protected]. All 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 what support is available.

Miscarriages are often referred to as early or late, although there are other types of miscarriage too.

What is early miscarriage?

Early miscarriage is one that happens in the first 3 months (first trimester) of pregnancy. Most miscarriages are early miscarriages.

Unfortunately, early miscarriages are very common and may happen before a woman realises she is even pregnant. In most cases, it is not possible to give a reason why an early miscarriage happens.

Find out more about early miscarriage.

What is late miscarriage?

A late miscarriage is one that happens after the first 3 months (second trimester of pregnancy, but before 24 weeks (during your second trimester). If a baby dies at or after 24 weeks of pregnancy, this is called a stillbirth.

It can be very hard to understand why a very late loss is called a miscarriage rather than a stillbirth. This is because, from a legal point of view, a baby is thought to have a good chance of surviving if they are born alive at 24 weeks. 

This distinction can be upsetting for some women who have a late miscarriage because they may also give birth to their baby and, understandably, feel that it should be called a stillbirth.

Late miscarriages are not as common as early miscarriages and happen in 1-2% of pregnancies.

How common is miscarriage?

Miscarriage is more common than people realise. Up to 1 in 5 women will experience a miscarriage in their lifetime. Many miscarriages are unreported and some go unnoticed as it happens so soon.

Find out more about how common miscarriage is.

What are the symptoms of miscarriage?

Bleeding

The most common sign of miscarriage is vaginal bleeding. It’s common to have light bleeding or spotting without pain before 12 weeks, so this doesn’t mean you are having a miscarriage. But if you have any bleeding in pregnancy, with or without pain, you should contact your midwife or hospital straight away.

Other symptoms of a miscarriage include:

Can I prevent miscarriage?

We don’t always know why miscarriages happen, which makes it very difficult to prevent them.

It is important to know that miscarriages very rarely happen because of something you did or didn’t do. And it’s important to remember that there is nothing you can do that will guarantee that you won’t have a miscarriage. However, we do know that there are some things that increase your risk of miscarriage that you can change. 

Find out more about preventing a miscarriage.

Was it my fault?

When your healthcare professional can’t give a reason why you miscarried, it can be very difficult to come to terms with. Without having a reason why, some women and couples end up unnecessarily blaming themselves for what happened. We have answered some common questions that we hope will stop people blaming themselves. 

Find out more about why did I miscarry and was it my fault?

Why does miscarriage happen?

Unfortunately, we still don’t know why every miscarriage happens. Sometimes, your doctor may be able to offer you some tests and find out the cause of your miscarriage. If this happens, you may be able to have treatment to help prevent it from happening again.

It’s important to know that sometimes doctors will not be able to find a reason why you have miscarried. Try not to worry too much if this is the case. Most couples are likely to have a successful pregnancy in the future.

Our research

Tommy’s is funding the cost of the UK’s first national Miscarriage Research Centre and aims to halve the number of miscarriages by 2030 by funding medical research.

1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss or preterm birth – and most parents never find out the real reason why. Our research is entirely dedicated to finding out why miscarriages happen and how to prevent it in the future.

Find out more about our Tell me why campaign.

Read more about miscarriage

Sources

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 (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 Guidelines (2019) Ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage: diagnosis and initial management. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng126

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

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    Last reviewed on February 6th, 2020. Next review date February 6th, 2023.

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    Comments

    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By Samara (not verified) on 19 Sep 2016 - 11:17

      Hi
      Its the fifth time im expecting and my GP still not recommended me to any specialist or any centre. I Called my surgery and spoke to them also made them open referral page with reference of St-Mary's hospital and professor Lesley Regan. Lets hope they refer me asap and take it seriously.

      Regards

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Sep 2016 - 11:40

      If your GP has now made the referral for you, then you should be able to call the Miscarriage centre at St Mary's directly and make an inquiry as to if your referral has been received and to find out when it might be possible to see you for review. The GP referral process if on our website - if your GP is not sure how it is done or the criteria, then please print it off for them and give it to them to follow. All the best

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 18 Aug 2016 - 16:21

      Hi. Thank you for your question and sorry to hear about your bleeding. The doctor is right. Spotting or light bleeding without pain is not uncommon before 12 weeks and is often not serious. However, the symptoms you describe could be a sign of a miscarriage and therefore a scan in the early pregnancy unit would be recommended.

    • By [email protected]'s on 19 Jul 2016 - 09:33

      I am so sorry to hear what an awful time you have been through. I can only imagine how you must be feeling! It is completely normal top be feeling the way you do and it’ll take some time to be able to process it all.
      I feel that it would be of real benefit for you to call us on 0800 0147800 and speak to one of us (we are all friendly midwives) for some more in-depth information and support. We run the service Mon- Fri 9am-5pm. We also have an email service [email protected] where we can email back and forth and send you far more in depth information, links, telephone numbers and advice – so please do get in touch as soon as you feel that you can!
      There is so much that you need addressing that I want to really be able to help you and this is perhaps not the best medium for us to do so. Please copy and paste what you have written and email us (if you do not wish to call us) and then we can properly talk/be in touch. Please do not suffer alone!
      I am also in tomorrow and can call you/email you if you send over your details.
      Take care

      Sophie
      Tommy’s Midwife

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 18 Jul 2016 - 21:30

      Hiya I found out 17 weeks that my baby heart beat stop hospital said looked as if the baby stop going at 14 weeks
      At 13 weeks I was suffering really bad with headaches and every now then stomach cramps could the headache be related to my miss carriage

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 10 Jul 2016 - 07:44

      I am devastated. Had an horrendous experience in hospital last week. Now suffered my 3 rd recurrent miscarriage since October. ( I am 40) On each I should have been 8 or 9 weeks but loose the baby at 6 1/2 or 7.
      Have had tablets on 2 occasions , thus time was supposed to be the op so I did not have the trauma of witnessing the passing of the sac. It all went wrong and over two days of being nil by mouth, I kept being cancelled as they didn't have room. Once I was taken down to theatre only to be told it was a mistake. The consultant then came to tell me the anaesthetists had gone home. During the day I had 2 anaesthetists come and explain what would happen, make me answer the same questions and sign the same form. At 3 on the first day, a Doctor came to ask me how the procedure had been!
      I ended up so stressed, hungry and dehydrated that I took the tablets again when offered late in the night. I was told by the on call team it was either me or a child with appendicitis.
      Whilst waiting, a consultant discussed aps. A lot of this seems to make sense as I suffer hemaplaegic migraines, thyroid and stroke in the family, suffering issues with memory and my 6 year old was born early, low birth weight and I had severe preeclampsia.
      I was told by another doctor I was just unlucky. Right now, I feel sad, angry, mistreated and don't know how to get over this.
      I lost huge clots after having to pass my baby yet again down the toilet, thus time in hospital into the grey trays, so they could 'monitor.'
      I lost so much that I didn't even make it to the toilet but it was literally falling out of me and they took me back in a wheelchair. It was undignified and not why I was supposed to be there.
      A week in, I am still bleeding, can't eat and haven't been able to go to the toilet.
      I am struggling to see how I can put myself through this again.
      When I went to be rescanned I asked about the tests but none knew the time frame between miscarrying and being tested for aps. Please can someone tell me?

    • By [email protected]'s on 7 Jul 2016 - 11:03

      Hi,
      Congratulations on your pregnancy! Pregnancy after a miscarriage can be a very worrying time but you are as likely to have a full term pregnancy this time as someone who never had a miscarriage. There's some information on this page below on what you can do to decrease your risk but it is all around having a healthy lifestyle, which you may have had in your first pregnancy and still had a miscarriage (most miscarriages are unexplained, which is why we want to fund extra research in this area): https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/pregnancy-complications/pregnancy-loss/miscarriage/preventing-miscarriage

      If you are very anxious it might be helpful to talk things through with us on our Pregnancyline 0800 0147 800. The call is free and the line is open 9-5 Mon to Fri. Hope this helps, The Tommy's Midwives

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 30 Jun 2016 - 20:08

      I had a miscarriage around February 2016 and now pregnant again June 2016, I'm only a month gone last item I was around 8 weeks in worried about having a mother miscarriage, can anyone give me some advice? Really don't want another one :(

    • By Tommy's on 29 Jun 2016 - 13:16

      We are so sorry to hear about what you have been through. It is difficult to answer your question without knowing further details into your medical history, if you would like to email the Tommy’s midwives on [email protected] then we will be able to give you more detailed advice about the care that you have received. Please feel free to email us at any time.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 - 12:51

      Hi I have had previous miscarriages 4 to be exact I've just recently found out that I am pregnant and very scared about having a miscarriage is there any things that could help me preventer .......

    • By [email protected]'s on 23 Jun 2016 - 12:04

      We are so sorry to hear about what you have been through. It is difficult to answer your question without knowing further details into your medical history, if you would like to email the Tommy’s midwives on [email protected] then we will be able to give you more detailed advice about the care that you have received. Please feel free to email us at any time.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 - 00:50

      Hi, i have miscarried five times over a ten year period, i got to my 12 week scan and was told i miscarried at 9 and half weeks should my babu/fetus as they call it of been imvestigated to find any abnormalities in my baby. I just got offered a cremation for my baby and often wondered if they should of investigated qhy my babys heart stopped.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 14 Jun 2016 - 21:20

      I had a complete miscarriage on Sunday, heavy bleeding large clots, went to our woman's center and my ob was on call. Gave me a whole bag of pitocin and methegin. Should I be having pain in my left shoulder and a headache now?

    • By [email protected]'s on 13 Jun 2016 - 10:09

      Please call our midwives on 0800 0147 800 to talk . They are on the line 9-5 Mon to Friday. Or you can email us on [email protected] and give your number, they will call you back.
      Tommy's

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 4 Jun 2016 - 18:38

      I discovered I was pregnant 2 weeks ago . Two positive test. One was clear blur digital said 2_3 weeks pregnant. I have been bleeding for a week now. starting off brown in colour. then pinkish then heavy red blood. hospital visited on Thursdayblood and urine test confirmed poitive. Friday visited epu where I had internal scan/and ultrasound. no signs of pregnancy are found . have to go back on Monday for my hormone level to be tested it is currently 2400. I have been told if they drop it's possible I have lost my baby. but I am so confused as I have done another test today positive reading and gain saying 2_3 weeks . have I miscarried or what could be going on as I'm going insane .

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 2 Jun 2016 - 21:11

      Just had a miscarriage in the last couple of days ... feel very alone and tearful.... and still bleeding quite alot. Friends are very kind and supportive but feel i cant really express how i feel as they also have their own stuff to deal with ... any support groups or one 2 one groups u know of any info of please. Sacha

    • By [email protected]'s on 1 Jun 2016 - 12:41

      Dear Shanella
      Would you like to call our midwives on 0800 0147 800 to talk about this? They are on the line 9-5 Mon to Friday.
      Hope this helps,
      Tommy's

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 29 May 2016 - 14:10

      hi, i had a misscarriage at the beginning of the year and it was my first pregnancy. It was a blighted ovum misscarriage according to the doctors. Am just wondering what is it really? Also, am pretty scared to be pregnant again.
      Many thanks
      Shanella

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