Symptoms of miscarriage

Miscarriage is more common than you may realise. The majority of miscarriages happen before others are aware of the pregnancy.

Symptoms of a miscarriage

The most common symptom of miscarriage is bleeding.  This can vary from a light spotting to brown discharge, or a heavy bleed, which may be worse than a normal period.  Some women are shocked by the amount of bleeding.

Pains are another sign.  This cramping or tummy pain may accompany the bleeding, or come alone. It may be mild or severe, a dull ache or sharp pain or feel like backache.

A discharge of fluid from the vagina can also indicate a miscarriage.

You may simply feel that you are not pregnant any more.  Your pregnancy symptoms such as tender breasts or sickness may have gone.

Some women have no signs at all that their baby has died and sadly only discover the loss when they attend a routine antenatal appointment for an ultrasound scan.

This is called a missed miscarriage.

Every woman’s experience of miscarriage is different, but common symptoms include the following:

These symptoms don’t always mean miscarriage

It’s important to know that light vaginal bleeding, or spotting, is common during the first trimester (first 12 weeks of pregnancy) and doesn’t  always mean you are having a miscarriage.  Some pain can also be felt in early pregnancy towards the end of the first trimester as ligaments of your body stretch. Some women can also experience some cramps due to the implantation of the fertilised egg or during or after sex.

Similarly, pregnancy symptoms can vary and may reduce as time goes on.  If you have any concerns about anything you may be feeling, speak to your GP or midwife. If you can’t speak to your GP or midwife call the NHS emergency number 111 at any time of day.

When to seek urgent help

Some miscarriages are caused by a pregnancy which develops outside of the womb.  This is called an ectopic pregnancy. This is a potentially serious situation as there is a risk of internal bleeding.

It’s important to visit your GP or the nearest A&E department if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • severe and persistent abdominal pain, often on one side
  • vaginal bleeding or spotting, most often after the pain has started
  • pains in your shoulder tip
  • diarrhoea and vomiting
  • feeling very faint and light-headed, or fainting

Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy usually appear between weeks 5 and 14 of the pregnancy.

More about miscarriage


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

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  • By Anonymus (not verified) on 4 Mar 2018 - 07:45

    My last period ended on jan 30 ... Then after 10 days i got brownish discharge on feb 10.. which lasted for 5 days.. nw my due period date was 26 feb but i didnt get periods insted on 2nd march i started getting brownish blackish discharge... With light abdominal cramping... What is all this ? Em so worried am i pregnant or there is any other reason... ?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Mar 2018 - 13:44

    It is difficult to know what is happening at the moment. I would advise for you to take a pregnancy test to see if you are pregnant or not. If you are pregnant and the bleeding and pain continues then I would advise for you to see your GP to be reviewed. Best wishes, Tommy's midwives

  • By Anon (not verified) on 10 Feb 2018 - 23:59

    Hi, since my periods return after having my son (he is 2, they came back at 6 months) they have been very heavy, I’ve had a 21 day cycle every month with period lasting 5-7 days. This month my period started on time but as very very light spotting, it has progressed a little but is very light in comparison to normal and has bits of tissue in it, it’s a mix of brown and red. I’ve had no cramping other a little at the start with very mild back ache. I’m still bleeding lightly at day 10. I did a pregnancy test at day 5 and it was negative, what could be going on?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Feb 2018 - 15:46

    Thank you for your message. It is quite common to experience some changes in your menstrual cycle after you have had a baby and they make take some time to regulate. However, if you are concerned about your bleeding, especially if it feels different from what you are sued to, please make an appointment to see your GP urgently.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 10 Feb 2018 - 05:58

    Hi. Im pregnant i did the test twice but im not sure whether im 2weeks or 3weeks pregnant but what i've noticed is that i have a back pain, lower pain and light brown spots, i would like to know what is wrong with me.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Feb 2018 - 15:50

    Thank you for your message.
    Whilst some pregnancy tests predict how many weeks you are pregnant, a more reliable method in determining how many weeks pregnant you are is from the date of your last menstrual period (LMP). The pregnancy due date calculator in the link below can help you work out how pregnant you are.

  • By Donna (not verified) on 29 Jan 2018 - 10:13

    Good morning, Iam 25 and I'm on my 3rd pregnancy, my last two pregnancys ended in miscarriage!
    This is the furthest I have ever gotten with any of my pregnancys and Iam so desperate to be a mum, I first found out I was pregnant at 3 and a half weeks and since then I feel like I have been balancing on an knife edge, Imnow 6 weeks and 3 days pregnant I have extreme bloating which makes me look like I have a small bump (which I love) my breasts are tender to touch and some days I could just cry with the pain in them (possibly dramatic I know) but I haven't had any morning sickness yet but I have felt like I want to be sick, I haven't got any cravings yet, my stomach has been cramping but today it's fine but my lower back is agony I'm not due a scan untill 12 weeks and I'm panicking, I can't seem to stay off of Google either which I know is wrong because the symptoms I have are coming up miscarriage, me and my husband want this pregnancy to go well more than anything and we are so excited how do I stop worrying and is my back normal to be sure at this stage?
    Thankyou in advance xx
    P.s sorry for being such a drama queen

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Jan 2018 - 11:48

    Hi and Thank you for contacting us. You are right that this can be an extremely stressful time particularly if you have a history of 2 miscarriages. Not everyone is affected by the 'minor disorders of pregnancy' as we call it (nausea, sickness, cravings etc) and there is nothing to worry about if you do not experience these symptoms. Miscarriage is usually associated with some bleeding, but if you haven't had any bleeding or discharge, the back pain may be associated with a different cause. Try to keep yourself calm, eat well, get good rest and take your folic acid supplements. We hope all goes well for you. Best wishes

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 29 Jan 2018 - 13:01

    Thankyou for your help, x

  • By Abena Asamoah (not verified) on 27 Jan 2018 - 08:14

    am 8weeks pregnant and one week ago i have brown discharge when it comes,is light and when I wiped it will not come again until evening or next morning. Sometimes I feel pain at my lower abdomen. Sometimes too tied and cramps please help me because this my first time pregnancy and I don't know what to do. It could be miscarriage?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Jan 2018 - 11:25

    Hi, Some brown discharge can be nothing to worry about but If you are still having pain and abdominal cramps I would suggest that you go to see your doctor who may refer you for a scan and blood test. If you are in the UK you could go to an early pregnancy unit who will be able to help and advise. Best wishes

  • By Kellt (not verified) on 24 Jan 2018 - 16:32

    Hi I am 5 weeks 6 days pregnant and since Sunday evening have had brown discharge on wiping its ongoing where it comes and goes through the day I’ve had some pink watery streaks within it and genurally seem to have an increase in vaginal discharge is this a sign of a miscarriage?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Jan 2018 - 16:39

    Hi Thank you for your comment.

    Spotting can be common in early pregnancy and can happen for a number of reasons, your body is expecting a period, harmless erosions on the cervix or spotting after intercourse. As you have been having the discharge since Sunday, it may be worth getting yourself checked over with the GP or Early Pregnancy Unit at your local hospital. They should be able to just check you over and give you reassurance. You have no fresh red bleeding or abdominal pain so at this stage there is nothing to suggest this could be a sign of a miscarriage, but please seek medical advice then you will be reassured. Hope this helps, take care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Christine (not verified) on 22 Jan 2018 - 19:13

    When my daughter was 15 and went to hospital cause she thought she was pregnant. After they did a vaginal ultra sound she went home and ended up having a miscarriage. Needless to stay she has a one year old now. She called me into bathroom the othe day and there was a huge blood clot and alot more blood as well. Ithought it was just the beginning of her period. Well she was comiting a few days before and slept most of 2 days. She stopped bleeding bit is still having mild discharge. Could rhia have been a miscarriage

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 23 Jan 2018 - 10:07

    Dear Christine,

    It is possible that she was having a miscarriage if she was bleeding heavily and passing clots. You mention that the previous couple of days she was unwell too?

    Regarding bleeding after a miscarriage - usually bleeding can continue for up to 10 days – but be lighter by this time. Occasionally a woman may experience further blood loss for up to 2-3 weeks but this should not be heavier than a period.

    If she experiences fresh, red bleeding, passes further clots or has a smelly discharge – or feels like she is developing an infection please see your doctor. Periods usually return 4-6 weeks later in most cases.

    It is not uncommon to be mildly anaemic following a miscarriage, a blood test for Haemoglobin-iron levels might be a good idea in 6-8 weeks.

    Women often get pregnant straight after a miscarriage because we never really know when ovulation occurs during this time. If she is planning on another pregnancy it would be good to get checked out by her doctor and start on pre pregnancy vitamins. If she wants to wait, suggest she sees a nurse specialist about contraception and uses condoms in the meantime.

    Warm wishes
    Anna-Tommy's Midwife

  • By MnM (not verified) on 2 Jan 2018 - 09:49

    Hi there, ive Had a terrible week.
    I went for a scan thinking I was 8-12 weeks pregnant, however they had to do an internal scan to find the fetal pole. It was measuring 2.4-3.1mm, with no heartbeat. The advise I was given was to go back for another scan 7days later but to expect the worse.
    I was fine until 4days after the initial scan where I started to have more than my usual brown discharge and it was constant, whereas before it was every now and then. I called the early pregnancy unit who said I was probably at the beginning stages of a miscarriage but if it got a lot worse (bad cramps and really heavy bleeding) I was to go to my local a&e). Now I would say that it has progressed to a light bleed. I have my follow up scan tomorrow where I know il be told I no longer have an active pregnancy.
    I’m so tired and the constant worry and anxiety is wearing me down x

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Jan 2018 - 13:56

    Hi, Thank you for your comment.
    We are sorry for the delay in replying, not sure of you have already had your scan but if you need further support at this time then please feel free to contact the Tommy's Midwives on 0800 0147 800 Monday to Friday 9am-5pm or email on [email protected] Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Harley (not verified) on 5 Jan 2018 - 01:00

    Well I am 6weeks and 2day I am bleeding I am a new b to be a mom and I went to my OB appointment they said the baby had a heart beat but my hcg level r not where they r supposed to be it went from 560 to 590 and had more blood draw but my OB said if their is any bad news then he will call no call so but how would I no when things go wrong we I am at home ?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Jan 2018 - 13:57

    Hi, I am sorry to hear that you are going through such an anxious time at the moment and unsure as to what is happening. It sounds like you need a plan in place moving forward, have they given you another follow up appointment? If not then I would advise to call them to have this booked as they should be monitoring you if your hcg is not rising very quickly. If you have any heavy bleeding or pain then do go straight to A+E to be reviewed.

  • By E (not verified) on 22 Dec 2017 - 08:44

    I had a miscarriage in October at 11 weeks, I started on the pill about a week later when the bleeding had pretty much stopped. I then went on to have a period in november about 4 weeks after the miscarriage but it was very light bleeding, not like my normal periods. I have now started what i assume is my next period but again its very light bleeding more like a brown/red discharge.
    Is this normal for my periods to be like this after a miscarriage? I was expecting them to be heavier, not lighter. Is it possible that i could be pregnant again even though im on the pill and still having what i think are periods?
    Any advice greatfully recieved, thanks.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Dec 2017 - 12:18

    Hi E,

    Please call us on the helpline to discuss further.
    0800 0147 800

  • By Cassandra masango (not verified) on 4 Jan 2018 - 04:25

    my blood was like orange and after all here comes big blood during menstruation .am scared i dont know what can i call this

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Jan 2018 - 16:16

    Hi Cassandra,
    I am unsure of what you are experiencing at the moment. If you would like to email us [email protected] with some more detail then we will support you best we can. Take care x

  • By Jane (not verified) on 19 Nov 2017 - 23:19

    Hi there
    I’ve have very stressful few weeks I’m am very regular with my periods and this time I was 5 days late but it was different to normal that stop after 4 days and since then I’ve been spotting and a brown discharge my breast r tender and gone off food. I’ve taken a test which was negative any ideas x

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Nov 2017 - 09:40

    Hi Jane
    It might beneficial to re-take a test in 4-5 days time again. Sometimes it can take a little while for the hcg levels to build up in the urine for the test to be able to give a true positive or negative result.
    Sometimes, our bodies are also very susceptible to being "swayed" by other women's periods and this can sometimes bring our periods on earlier or later. If in a weeks time, you have still not seen your period and your pregnancy test is negative, then it might be worth going to the GP for a review.
    Please take good care of yourself

  • By Jules (not verified) on 18 Nov 2017 - 20:04

    I am really worried something is wrong as I had strong nausea throughout the day for the past 3 weeks and now nothing, my breasts are also much less swollen and tender. I don't have a scan until 10 days away and I don't know what to do. I tried calling a number I was given for advice but it rings out constantly. I don't have strong pain bleeding, only pains in the last few weeks which were manageable.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Nov 2017 - 09:49

    Hi Jules
    All pregnancy symptoms can come and go. Some days may be worse than others in terms of nausea and breast tenderness. Other days, you may feel completely well, with no symptoms at all. This does not necessarily mean that the pregnancy is not ok. Some women will suffer every day, from start to end of pregnancy with pregnancy symptoms. Other women won't ever experience any of them. Every pregnancy and every woman is completely different.
    In terms of your pain, if your pains becomes increased, then i would suggest that you seek urgent medical review in A&E/GP/Early pregnancy unit. Please take good care of yourself and try not to worry too much at this stage.

  • By Reagans (not verified) on 9 Nov 2017 - 19:48

    I'm 7 weeks pregnant and 2 days. Last night I experience a brown discharge when I wipe after peeing that one time before bed and haven't had the discharge since. Could I have had a miscarriage? Right now I'm uninsured so I don't know if I should visit a hospital or not since I'm unable to pay the bill.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 Nov 2017 - 10:26

    It is not uncommon to experience some light brown bleeding in early pregnancy. If this has happened on just the one occasion and you are not experiencing any other symptoms such as pain or feeling unwell then just monitor how things are. If you experiencing any pain or further bleeding or feeling unwell then we would advise you to contact a doctor to be reviewed. We are based in the UK so unfortunately not familiar with your healthcare system however if you are concerned then we would always advised to be reviewed.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 8 Nov 2017 - 14:11

    Hi ,

    I need some advice. I think I misscarried around 5/6 weeks of being pregnant guessing the symptoms I had which were heavy blood clot like bleeding. From this present date I am still receiving stomach and back pain and always being very tired , but I didn't ever attend the GP when going through this. Should I be concerned that I may still be pregnant or is it normal to feel like this? If I was still pregnant to this date I'd be around 11 weeks.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Nov 2017 - 09:41

    Thank you for your comment. I'm sorry to hear that you are still experiencing symptoms of pain and tiredness. I would advise you to talk to your GP about this as it's not normal to have these symptoms for all this time-your GP may suggest you have some tests to find out what is causing this. Please don't put off seeing them.
    Have you had a normal period since the possible miscarriage-it may also be worth doing another pregnancy test too.
    Hope this helps
    Take care

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 7 Nov 2017 - 22:32

    Hi there , after taking a test 2 weeks after sexual intercourse the test came up positive which meant I had to be pregnant. And around 5 weeks of this after passing urine I noticed a lot of heavy bleeding whilst on the toilet so I assumed I had misscarried , but due to me only being 18 years old I was too nervous to attend the GP so I've basically dealt with alone. I'm now around 13 weeks since I've last had sex and I have been experiencing bad stomach cramps and a sore back and just generally feeling tired. Should I be concerned and is it worth visiting the GP to be checked out properly?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 8 Nov 2017 - 12:44

    Thank you for posting. I'm sorry that you're not feeling well with these stomach cramps, sore back and tiredness. I understand that with the heavy bleeding you assumed you had miscarried. Have your periods come back since, is there any pattern yet? If you haven't had a period since I would take another pregnancy test first. If it is negative then I would go and see your GP and explain what has happened and get checked out.
    I totally understand that you're nervous. You have been through a lot on your own. If you would like to talk things through we are always here for you so please call on 0800 0147 800 or send us another message.
    Anna- Tommy's Midwife

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 8 Nov 2017 - 15:39

    Hi ,

    Thank you very much for responding to my comment.

    I will take your advise and take another test and if it's negative I will attend my local GP practice and see about it all

    Thanks again

  • By Demi (not verified) on 25 Oct 2017 - 14:43

    Hi, I’m currently 4 weeks pregnant and have been experiencing some left groin pain it’s not painful but more annoys me than anything I don’t feel unwell either could you please explain what this could be?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 25 Oct 2017 - 14:53

    Hi Demi
    It doesn't sound like anything much to be worried about,nor anything much related to the pregnancy.
    It could simply be a trapped nerve which will hopefully resolve itself soon. If it continues, or gets worse, please go to see your GP. It is unlikely to be related to the pregnancy as the pregnancy is not "big enough" to be causing any compression anywhere just yet. Please take good care of yourself.
    Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

  • By Liz (not verified) on 25 Oct 2017 - 02:15

    It's my first pregnancy an I'm full of questions. I'm 7 weeks.for the past 3 day my breast have not been in pain or swollen. I'm worried because I'm scared that my baby's heart is no longer beating.everithyng is normal. How can I know if my baby is still ok. My next appointment is 2 weeks from now.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 25 Oct 2017 - 09:59

    Hi Liz,
    Congratulations on your pregnancy!
    Pregnancy symptoms can come and go and this is nothing to be concerned about. Some days your body will give you nausea,vomiting and breast so tender that you can barely even think about them without them hurting. Others days your body will give you an almost symptom free day! It fluctuates and this is normal. But i do understand your concern. Unfortunately , there isn't a lot that can be done in early pregnancy- there is quite a long wait to be scanned and seen by your midwife- but it soon comes around. The fetal heart is only first visible from 6 weeks on ultrasound scan, and often the first scan is between 11-13 weeks if there is no bleeding or abdo pain during this time. Please try not to worry to much. If you develop any bleeding or abdo pain, then please do seek medical review from your GP/early pregnancy assessment unit. Or A&E if the bleeding or pain is severe. Otherwise, there is no reason to be concerned. Please take care of yourself

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 19 Oct 2017 - 08:20

    Been spotting (brown) for the last 3 days and today I woke up with mild cramps. I don't feel pregnant anymore and my boobs are no longer sore. I'm supposed to be 11 weeks and 2 days pregnant today. Is it possible that I have miscarried? Just waiting for doctor to call me back and refer me to hospital.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Oct 2017 - 13:53

    Hi, Thank you for your comment.

    It can be very common for pregnancy symptoms to come and go as well as having mild cramps as all the ligaments stretch and the pregnancy grows. Just like you have already done we would recommend that you contact your GP who will be able to refer you to the early pregnancy unit if this is needed. Hope everything is ok and please contact us again is you need any advice and support. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Anon (not verified) on 27 Sep 2017 - 20:22

    We have been trying for a baby for 5 months and I've fallen in to a regular monthly cycle with extremely light periods. This month my period arrived 5 days early and is extremely heavy. It started with a tiny bleed on Sunday and then Monday morning I had a really bad cramp for about 30 mins off and on followed by heavy bleeding. I would only have been 3 wks pregnant and hadn't had a positive test although I did do one on Saturday as I felt 'off'. I know it could just be a heavy period but it's so out of character that it's made me worry it has been a miscarriage. I've struggled to find any info on what it could be so would appreciate any help or guidance please. Many thanks xx

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Sep 2017 - 09:26

    Hi there, it is very difficult to say if i am honest. Some menstrual cycles can just be a lot heavier or lighter than what is normal for you. However, i can appreciate your concern when there is a lot of bleeding, more than usual, that this could make you question why this has happened. It might be a good idea to go to your GP to discuss this with them and to keep track of your next few menstrual cycles. If there is any concern, the GP can refer you to a gynecology clinic for review. I hope that this is slightly helpful. Please take good care of yourself!

  • By Madfox (not verified) on 2 Sep 2017 - 21:37

    I had a surgical misscarriage on 24th May and found out I was pregnant again a few weeks ago. I had very light spotting on June 22nd for 2 days so midwife dated me at 9 weeks. Just been for an early reassurance scan. Sonographer did an internal scan as she couldn't see heartbeat. During internal she saw sac and yolk but again no heartbeat. They think gestation is 6 weeks and measuring around 5mm. They think I am misscariaging again. I have to go back in 10 days for another scan. Does anyone have any similar experiences. X

  • By MnM (not verified) on 2 Jan 2018 - 09:44

    Hi there, I could’ve wrote this myself minus the first miscarriage. I went for a scan thinking I was 8-12 weeks pregnant, however they had to do an internal scan to find the fetal pole. It was measuring 2.4-3.1mm, with no heartbeat. The advise I was given was to go back for another scan 7days later but to expect the worse.
    I was fine until 4days after the initial scan where I started to have more than my usual brown discharge and it was constant, whereas before it was every now and then. I called the early pregnancy unit who said I was probably at the beginning stages of a miscarriage but if it got a lot worse (bad cramps and really heavy bleeding) I was to go to my local a&e). Now I would say that it has progressed to a light bleed. I have my follow up scan tomorrow where I know il be told I no longer have an active pregnancy.
    I hope you had access with ur last pregnancy it if not with your future one to come x

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 22 Aug 2017 - 11:12

    I've had slight brown discharge for 6days until last night when I had bright red bleeding.. darker now. I'm between 6and7 weeks pregnant and travelling home today from what has been an anxious holiday, no cramps or pain just wanting to get checked once I get home to ease my mind.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Aug 2017 - 15:35

    Hi, Thank you for you comment.

    Hopefully you have returned home safe from your holiday, it must of been a very worrying time for you. You may have already been checked by a doctor now on reading this reply, so we hope that everything is ok and if you need any further advice or support them please contact us by email at [email protected] or call us on 0800 0147 800 Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. Take care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Unknown (not verified) on 20 Aug 2017 - 01:10

    Hi I have a history of reoccurring miscarriages I'm 9 weeks today but 2 days ago I started spotting I went gp but because I had a scan the week before they said they wernt worried I'm still spotting and not sure what to do please help

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 23 Aug 2017 - 15:56

    Hi, I'm so sorry to hear that you are experiencing spotting. As you know spotting in early pregnancy can be common in pregnancy. If it remains light and pinkish it should settle in a few days if it continues and in light of your previous losses I would ask the GP to refer you for another scan to help ease your anxiety.
    Please get in contact on 0800 0147 800 if you need to talk to a midwife.
    Thinking of you
    Anna- Tommy's Midwife

  • By Ria (not verified) on 18 Aug 2017 - 07:06 4 to 5weeks pregnant I have been having brown discharge from about the time that my period was due, which is almost for the past 2 weeks now and it hasn't stopped....its light brown and on occasion dark brown......what are you thoughts on this please help as my GP had just told me to monitor it but nothing more

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 18 Aug 2017 - 12:05

    Some bleeding can be normal in early pregnancy. Brown in colour is a good sign that there is nothing to worry about. Do continue to monitor if it does persists, start to feel unwell or have any pain please go and see your GP or attend your local hospital.
    You can also call our Pregnancy Line if you would like more information on 0800 0147 800.

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