Early miscarriage

Most miscarriages occur during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Miscarriages that happen in this period are called early miscarriages.

An early miscarriage or a first trimester miscarriage is one that happens in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Most miscarriages are early miscarriages.

Losing a baby can be very upsetting. No matter when in your pregnancy you miscarry, you may need support to help you come to terms with what’s happened. 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.

What are the symptoms of an early miscarriage?

Most women experience vaginal bleeding, but some women have no symptoms at all. This is known as a missed (or silent) miscarriage. You will usually be diagnosed as having a silent miscarriage after an ultrasound scan.

What causes an early miscarriage?

Unfortunately, early miscarriages are very common and 1 in 5 women have a miscarriage for no obvious reason. The most common cause is thought to be a genetic problem within the developing baby, but a poorly formed placenta can also cause problems.

Chromosomal problems

Chromosomes are blocks of DNA which contain instructions for developing every part of your baby.  They are found inside every single cell of the body. Sometimes, things go wrong at conception or during the development of the baby’s chromosomes, which can cause genetic abnormalities. If these problems are incompatible with life, or normal development, you may lose the baby.

It’s estimated that up to nearly half of early miscarriages are associated with chromosomal problems in the baby. But this doesn’t mean there are any problems with your own or your partner’s chromosomes. Most couples who experience miscarriage as a result of chromosomal problems go on to have a healthy baby in the future.

Placental problems

The placenta is an organ which links your blood supply to the baby’s. This life-giving link is essential to a developing baby. If there is a problem with the development of the placenta, it can also lead to a miscarriage.

What happens next?

We have more information about how early miscarriages are managed.

If you have had 3 or more miscarriages in a row, you can ask for tests and investigations to understand why it happened. Many of the studies at the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research look at why miscarriages happen and how to prevent them. Sometimes doctors won’t be able to find a reason. Try not to worry too much if this is the case. Although it is heartbreaking, most couples go on to have a successful pregnancy in the future.

It can be hard to recover from a miscarriage. We have more information about coping after a miscarriage and stories from other people who have also experienced an early miscarriage. We hope these will help you to know you are not alone and there is support out there.

Trying again after a miscarriage

It’s best to ask your doctor whether there are any medical reasons while you should wait for a while before trying to get pregnant again. If there aren’t, it’s up to you when you want to start trying again. Some couples feel they need some time to prepare themselves emotionally and physically for a new pregnancy. You may need to allow yourself time to grieve for your lost baby before you think about the future. Other couples feel trying again will help them come to terms with what has happened.

It is an individual choice and one you need to make as a couple. Find out more about trying again after a miscarriage.


Read more about miscarriage


NICE (2019). Ectopic Pregnancy and Miscarriage: Diagnosis and Initial Management National Institute for health and care excellence


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

NHS Choices. Your pregnancy week by week. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-week-by-week.aspx#close (Page last reviewed: 22/07/2014. Next review due: 22/07/2016)

Ogasawara M, et al (2000) Embryonic karyotype of abortuses in relation to the number of previous miscarriages. Fertility and Sterility. 2000 Feb;73(2):300-4.

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    Last reviewed on March 13th, 2020. Next review date March 13th, 2023.

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    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 Kellie (not verified) on 4 Feb 2020 - 20:16

      I had a miscarriage 5 days ago and it hurts so bad emotionally and physically. I was also sent home where I miscarries naturally.
      I’m 40 and really want a baby. Went in for my 12 week scan to find out there was no heartbeat. I was on aspirin and progesterone
      Dr said my blood was thinning out enough.
      I want to try again it’s so hard to think of going through this again. As it’s been so hard to finally get pregnant.

    • By Lidya (not verified) on 27 Jan 2020 - 22:01

      Hi am Lidya Please I need help I have miscarriage for 6 times for 4 weeks pregnancy I don’t know what happened to me am going to be crazy I have been check but doc didn’t find the problems if the problem is chromosomal is hv solution

    • By Shanna (not verified) on 17 Aug 2019 - 07:03

      Hi so I am exactly 8 weeks and 3 days along well when I was 5 weeks I started spotting and cramping well i thought I was having a miscarriage well it stopped well now im bleeding heavily im cramping so bad and my lower back is hurting so bad? Could this be a early miscarriage? The hospital around gere told me the last time I miscarried that i wasnt miscarring that it was just a bad period when in fact it was a miscarriage but this pain is worse!? Also would i need a dnc this early In pregnancy if I was in fact miscarring? I need answers im scared

    • By Mary (not verified) on 12 Jul 2019 - 19:04

      Am 42yrs, am 8wks pregnant but for the last 4days I have been discharging dark brown thick tissues. I went for scan today n expression was threatened miscarriage. Kindly advice

    • By Gill (not verified) on 26 May 2019 - 20:03

      Following a small amount of spotting last thursday I went to hospital and had a scan which suggested things were not positive. Three days later I am having a miscarriage with painful contractions and very little bleeding and this has been going on for hours. Ironically the pain and length of time of the miscarriage is far worse and longer than that of the birth of my two children 1 hr 30 mins and 10 mins requiring no pain relief. I think it is terribly sad that women have a scan told it's not looking positive, sent home (and not necessarily with anyone at home to help) with a miscarriage leaflet not knowing what's going to happen and when, not knowing what to say to the employer or how long you will be off work for. It has been and is one of the most distressing emotional and physical experiences, left almost abandoned.

    • By Chevone (not verified) on 31 Mar 2019 - 19:29

      Hi I’m about 5/6weeks pregnant and have been spotting for about 6days now could I be misscarrying?

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 6 Jul 2019 - 21:33

      Please check, sometimes spotting is possible in pregnancy as well.

    • By Agnes (not verified) on 30 Mar 2019 - 19:45

      I am 42 and really wanted a baby.I was so happy when I found out I am pregnant.Till my miscarriage 2 days ago my pregnancy went so well without any strangle .During my scan I was told that there is no heart beat.2 days ago I was pregnant with head of full of dreams and plans and now it is all over..Tears can’t stop coming.

    • By Chris (not verified) on 7 Jul 2019 - 23:08

      Hi. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I notice it was the end of March you had your miscarriage which was the same time my partner had surgery for an ectopic pregnancy at 7 weeks. She is only a few months from being 42 so we’re in a similar situation, time is not on our side. Not sure if it has worked naturally for you but we have needed to take clomid from a private doctor as well as having acupuncture which has resulted in 2 pregnancies which both ended at 7 weeks. We think taking progesterone pessaries after ovulation up until 12 weeks may help as our second baby was still alive and had a strong heartbeat unfortunately she was stuck in the Fallopian tube so needed to be taken out. We were taking progesterone for this baby after we identified it might have been a factor in losing the first baby but we didn’t take the progesterone until after we found out about the pregnancy, we think possibly if we took the progesterone after ovulation it might have helped the egg through to the womb rather than getting stuck. Stress apparently is the progesterone killer so you need to do all you can to avoid stress. I thought I’d let you know our situation as we’ve done lots of research and it would have been nice if someone had been there to give us more help and information. The Miscarriage Association are quite good, they helped my partner and they provide stars of remembrance on their website. Anyway, I’m rambling. I hope some of this might be useful.

    • By Roisin (not verified) on 16 Feb 2019 - 10:56

      Hello, I’ve had two miscarriages in 4 months. I’m scared of this happening again after all the pain we’ve been through. Have you any research centres in N.ireland or ireland?
      Thank you

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 21 Feb 2019 - 11:04

      Hi Roisin, Thank you for your comment.

      We as so sorry to hear about your recent miscarriages, this must be a very difficult time for you and your family. We don't currently have a research centre in Northern Ireland but we can always give you information about our centres in London, Coventry and Birmingham. Please email the Tommy's Midwives on [email protected] Hope this helps, take care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Gretchen (not verified) on 5 Feb 2019 - 14:52

      Am 6 weeks preggy and experiencing now a lil brown stain in my liner and have miscarriage last year. What should I do that it won't happened to me what happened last year.

    • By Wanita Jackson (not verified) on 20 Jan 2019 - 12:42

      My daughter has just had a miscarriage in the Maldives, shes in the hospital where they want to do a D&C but she wants to come home and have it in the UK what's the danger? what should i advise her?

    • By Sabila Fred (not verified) on 17 Jan 2019 - 20:54

      Hi my wife has got miscarriages many time at 13 to14 weeks so far 4 miscarriages and I need solution from you. Thanks

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 18 Jan 2019 - 13:42

      I am so sorry to hear about what you and your wife are going through at the moment. If you have been through 4 miscarriages then you can be referred to a recurrent miscarriage clinic where they can do some tests and investigations to see if they can support you both in a future pregnancy.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • By Aysha (not verified) on 11 Dec 2018 - 13:58

      Can u have miscarriage on 12 weeks and 2 days

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Dec 2018 - 15:38

      Hi Aysha, Thank you for your comment.

      It is possible to have a miscarriage at any stage of pregnancy up until 24 weeks. After 12 weeks, the risk of miscarriage does drop, so the chance of this happening is reduce, but there is still always a risk that they can happen. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

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