The most common sign of miscarriage is vaginal bleeding. This can vary from light spotting or brownish discharge to bright red bleeding. This may come and go over several days.
Try to remember that light vaginal bleeding can be quite common in early pregnancy and doesn’t always mean you are having a miscarriage.
If you are bleeding, use a sanitary towel and keep track of your symptoms, but don’t use tampons because this can increase your risk of infection. It would be helpful to take your sanitary towel with you when you see your healthcare professional so they can see how much you are bleeding.
Any bleeding should be checked in pregnancy. Even if the bleeding is light, contact your GP, midwife or Early Pregnancy Unit immediately, just in case.
Other symptoms of a miscarriage
Other symptoms of a miscarriage include:
- cramping and pain in your lower tummy
- a discharge of fluid from your vagina
- a discharge of tissue from your vagina
- no longer experiencing pregnancy symptoms, such as feeling sick and breast tenderness (these are just examples, as not everyone experiences these in pregnancy).
Contact your GP, midwife or nearest Early Pregnancy Unit if you think you’re having a miscarriage. If your symptoms are severe, go to A&E. You may want to take someone with you.
Ectopic pregnancy symptoms
In an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilised egg starts to grow somewhere other than in the normal lining of the womb, usually in the fallopian tube. An ectopic pregnancy creates a potentially life-threatening situation for the mother, so it is very important that it is treated quickly.
If you experience a combination of the following symptoms, you should call your GP, midwife or NHS 111:
- a missed period and other signs of pregnancy
- tummy pain low down, more so on 1 side
- vaginal bleeding or a brown watery discharge
- pain in the tip of your shoulder
- discomfort when weeing or pooing.
These symptoms aren’t necessarily a sign of a serious problem, but you should get advice straight away.
Call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E department immediately if you experience a combination of:
- a sharp, sudden and intense pain in your tummy
- feeling very dizzy or fainting
- feeling sick
- looking very pale.
Will I always have symptoms if I miscarry?
Sadly, some women are diagnosed at their routine antenatal scan. This is called a missed miscarriage. You will be referred to the Early Pregnancy Unit or gynaecology department, where a specialist team will explain the treatment options to you.
NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries. Miscarriage https://cks.nice.org.uk/miscarriage (Page last reviewed: May 2018 Next review due: December 2023)
NHS Choices. Miscarriage. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/miscarriage/ (Page last reviewed: 1 June 2018 Next review due: 1 June 2021)
NHS Choices. Ectopic pregnancy. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ectopic-pregnancy/ (Page last reviewed: 27 November 2018 Next review due: 27 November 2021)Hide details
ℹLast reviewed on February 10th, 2020. Next review date February 10th, 2023.