Expectant management

Letting your miscarriage happen naturally is also called ‘expectant management.’

Letting your miscarriage happen naturally simply means you choose not to interfere with the natural process of miscarriage and go home to wait for your body to miscarry in its own time.

This is most successful in early pregnancies and can also be used in cases of missed miscarriage, where it is effective about 50 percent of the time.

It can take some time, however, for the process to start naturally.

Most women experience bleeding like a heavy period which may last for three weeks or longer.  It’s also normal to have tummy cramps, and painkillers may help you to bear these.

If you have severe pain or very heavy bleeding you must seek medical help straight away in case these symptoms are indications that not all the pregnancy tissues are coming away by themselves, which can lead to infection. You may be admitted to hospital for monitoring or further treatment, which could be medical or surgical.

You should have been offered information on where to find emotional support for your miscarriage during your consultation, and if you feel you are not coping, do seek help, or speak to your GP.



Read more about miscarriage management

  • Woman being comforted by healthcare professional.

    Surgical management

    If the medical option hasn’t been completely successful, or if you are bleeding heavily or have an infection, you may be advised to have surgery.

  • Woman's hand holding two pills.

    Medical management

    If you have a missed or incomplete miscarriage, you will be offered the option to take some medicine to help the miscarriage to get underway.


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

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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 D. Ramirez (not verified) on 9 Dec 2019 - 11:43

      So in August I found out I was pregnant. Right after I found out I had a miscarriage or wat I thought was a miscarriage. Before I was able to go to Dr I went to jail for a month. When I got out I was still testing positive on pregnancy test but was told it could be a false positive. But then kept on growing. Could I had possibly had a miscarriage of one baby and still be pregnant with the other???

    • By Shree (not verified) on 14 Oct 2019 - 08:36

      How long is it safe to wait for fetus to pass after a missed miscarriage? I was told I miscarriage at 8 week. Not blood, no spotting, no pain no nothing. If has be 4 weeks since the doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat. I really want my fetus to pass natural but I don’t want to jeopardize my health so how long should I wait before I proceed with another option?

    • By Anon (not verified) on 25 Jun 2019 - 15:55

      I’ve just gone through a missed miscarriage. I’ve had my follow up scan which should have been my 12 week pregnancy scan and the doctor has said the miscarriage is incomplete and to wait 2 weeks more for the miscarriage to complete naturally. On my scan last week (I would have been 11weeks) she said the baby hadn’t grown since 8-9 weeks so I’m scared waiting for 2 weeks more leaves me vulnerable to infection? All in all the aftercare hasn’t been good at all and leaving me very worried and unsure.

    • By Amanda (not verified) on 2 Jul 2019 - 11:02

      I would contact your local hosptials early pregnancy assessment unit (EPAU) and ask them, you should be given 3 options : expectant management (waiting), medical management or surgical. These should be your choices .

    • By eva (not verified) on 27 Mar 2019 - 22:01

      hi i had miscarriage i was 10weeks but the doctor said after the ultrasound she did not hear any hearbeat and no sac. after few days, i bleed and had cramps which lasts for 5days. After that it stops and only small spots. When i went back to doctor she claims i had miscarriage however, she ask me for D&C since there is still 2cm remnants. but im not bleeding anymore. Should i go with D&C or should i go home and wait till my body remove it naturally. Im actually frightened on the thought of going through D&C

    • By Erika Alvarado (not verified) on 12 May 2019 - 22:55

      Hi, I know it’s been over a month. I’m very sorry for your loss. I’m going through the same. I was told the sac it’s still inside. I was wondering, what did you end up doing? I’m suppose to take medication if I don’t see more tissue or heavy bleeding again by May 14th.

    • By Kiran (not verified) on 14 Jun 2019 - 21:17

      I had a missed miscarriage at 17 weeks of pregnancy but baby heart beat was stopped at week 13+4 days. I went to hospital they have given me medicine so that I can start bleeding and start contractions but after that medication I didn’t started bleeding at all. After two days I admitted to hospital they put medication on my vagina and opened up cervix to deliver the baby naturally. I delivered baby naturally same like labour.
      After 2-3 days I started contractions again and passing up some tissues. Went to hospital again they did my scan after a week and they said some of the tissues still their. And my midwife told me they can’t give any medication and can’t perform any surgery I will pass up tissues naturally may b on my next period or later. Is anyone their who experienced same thing or they are aware that those tissues which r left will not harm me. What should I do to pass the tissues soon. Please help

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 17 Sep 2019 - 15:43

      Same here what was the outcome, please share

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