What to be aware of if you have had a miscarriage

An easy to read list of the essential things you should know when you have had a miscarriage.

  • Take enough painkillers to ease the cramps – this is no time for heroics – and ask your doctor for something stronger if you’re suffering. You may also be prescribed antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection.
  • The bleeding may last for several weeks.
  • You’ll need plenty of extra-thick sanitary towels (if the bleeding is heavy, you may need to change them hourly or more frequently). Tampons are not suitable due to the risk of infection. When you leave hospital you will need someone to take you home and look after you.
  • Most doctors advise abstaining from sexual intercourse while you’re bleeding.
  • Swimming isn’t recommended.
  • Avoid washing with scented products as this may cause irritation.
  • After a late miscarriage or stillbirth, your body will react in the same way as any new mother’s: you may have after-pains as the uterus contracts back to its usual size. You may also have lochia (vaginal blood loss) and your breasts may produce milk. Ask your midwife or doctor if you need help to manage these symptoms.


1. NICE (2012) Ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage: diagnosis and initial management in early pregnancy of ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage, clinical guideline CG154, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

2. Stillbirth (Definition) Act 1992, Definition of stillborn child, Section 1(1), London The Stationery Office, 1992

3. RCOG (2008) Early miscarriage: information for you, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, , 2008

4. RCOG (2008) Bleeding and Pain in early pregnancy: information for you, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 2008

5. RCOG (2012) Recurrent and late miscarriage: tests and treatment of couples, information for you, London Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

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    Last reviewed on August 1st, 2016. Next review date August 1st, 2019.

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