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 Brithany jackson (not verified) on 9 Oct 2018 - 07:57

    I’ve been pregnant for 17 weeks & I was brutally rape and the person I was rape by I’m pregnant by I wanted to know how to have a safe miscarriage wat can I drink ?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 Oct 2018 - 16:41

    Hi Brithany
    I am so sorry that this has happened to you. There is no drink that you can take that safely abort the pregnancy. You will need to be seen by a Dr to be reviewed and to discuss your options.
    If you needs to call us for a chat, please do on 0800 0147800. or you can email us on [email protected]
    So you are aware, this is not a private forum and your name may appear on this webpage by the comment - so you may wish to delete this in the interest of your privacy
    Please take good care of yourself
    Tommy's Midwife

  • By Natasha (not verified) on 28 Sep 2018 - 14:11

    I had a missed miscarriage in may at 11wks+4dys. Baby had stopped growing at 7wks but my body failed to recognise it. I’m now sure I’m having another one. Im 4wks+4days and started bleeding lightly on Wednesday, well only when I wiped really. The last couple of days it’s gotten heavier and more like a period. I’ve lost all symptoms of feeling pregnant just as I did last time. I keep being told to go to the hospital just in case but to be honest I don’t feel pregnant anymore. I thought I’d wait for the bleeding to subside then take another test to check it’s negative as told to do last time. Obviously if it’s still positive I go to the hospital. I just don’t know I’m not in any major pain and have light cramps in my pelvic area but it’s likened to period pain.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Sep 2018 - 16:44

    Hi Natasha
    I'm so sorry to hear of your previous miscarriage and that you have started bleeding this month too. Please visit your GP - it is important to have any bleeding in pregnancy checked, even if you are sure the pregnancy has ended.

  • By Sarah (not verified) on 30 Aug 2018 - 20:54

    Hi im around 9 weeks pregnant, ive been having light bleeding for 3 days and today ive got bad stomach cramps/pains, is this a sign of a misscariage, got 3 other kids and ive had spotting before but not like this.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 31 Aug 2018 - 14:14

    Hi Sarah,
    We would advise for you to see your GP for a review if you are having cramps and on going spotting just to make sure everything is ok.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Boitumelo (not verified) on 29 Aug 2018 - 06:18

    Hi I was on my 8week pregnancy but last week I had some small spotting then they eventually went away yesterday the same small blood and clots and and a discharge of blood is it a miscarriage cause am still having cramps and painful pains like periods and a source of labour pains

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 31 Aug 2018 - 13:59

    Hi Boitumelo,
    If you are having bleeding and cramps then we would strongly advised for you to make contact with your GP for a review just to check that everything is ok with the pregnancy.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Aaliyah (not verified) on 11 Aug 2018 - 17:09

    Hello, I Had My Last period on the 25th Of June, me and my partner have been trying for a baby. Since yesterday I’ve been having some bleeding with some back pains a little cramps. I’m not sure if it’s my period after 6 weeks or a miscarriage.
    Please can you advise me

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Aug 2018 - 12:39

    Hi Aaliyah
    With your last menstrual period of 25th June, that makes you approx 6-7 weeks pregnant if you have had a positive pregnancy test.
    If you have not had a positive pregnancy test, then i would you suggest that you make an appointment to see your GP if your periods becoming irregular is abnormal for you and is a recent change as this may need further investigation.
    The Gp can also repeat the pregnancy test
    All the best
    Tommy's Midwife

  • By Ann (not verified) on 20 Jul 2018 - 07:11

    Hi there I hate to turn to hear for help and advise but here goes
    I found out I was pregnant 3weeks ago me thinks I'm about 8weeks.
    I was feeling very pregnant sick tired gone off certain food sore boob's cramp in ground. I
    I suddenly felt quite ill last week so went chemist and had high blood pressure 152/98
    They sent me to doctors and I have since took some time off work and stabilised.
    The few days all my pregnancy symptoms totally gone....I'm so worried this was connected to hight no last week.i don't want to waste anyone's time so thought I'd ask here only symptoms or sign of anything is my back full annoying ache down low.
    Many thanks ann

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Jul 2018 - 13:02

    Dear Ann,
    We would advise that if you have had a sudden loss of symptoms then to make contact with your doctor to be reviewed. This would be especially important if you have had any pain or bleeding, but even not it sounds like a review is necessary just to make sure everything is ok.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Zianda (not verified) on 14 Jul 2018 - 19:05

    Hi, I'm currently 16 weeks Pregnant and I felt mild pain in lower stomarch.. I'm scared of having a miscarriage since I had one in February...Is there any risk of having a miscarriage again?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 18 Jul 2018 - 09:23

    Hi Zianda
    I am sorry to hear that you had a miscarriage in Feb. Being pregnant after having a loss can be an anxious time. Our advice regarding abdominal pain, is to always get it checked out, each time it happens. You can attend your maternity triage/day assessment unit now that you are 16 weeks with your pregnancy notes. A midwife and Dr will check you over and make a plan of care with you if one is required. Please get yourself reviewed as soon as you can. All the best
    Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

  • By Holly (not verified) on 2 Jun 2018 - 14:39

    Hi, I'm about 7 weeks and have had brown discharge for a couple of days. I wouldn't call it spotting as it's more mucus like and only when I wipe after going to the loo. It started as light tan and now looks darker. Is this anything to be concerned about. My breasts are still tender and I feel tired but I don't have any pain or anything. I'm just so paranoid that this could be the start of something.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Jun 2018 - 15:11

    Hi Holly,
    As I am sure you have read there can be many reasons for some spotting or discharge and many women have similar symptoms and go on to have normal pregnancies. Best plan is to arrange to be seen at the early pregnancy unit at your local hospital. If your hospital doesn't have this service please see your GP for advice. Take care

  • By suzannah (not verified) on 29 May 2018 - 05:00

    i have been spotting for last 3 days with less cramps my breast have not been in pain i dont feel pregnant but sometimes i feel like vomiting .is it possible that i have miscarriage .

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 May 2018 - 16:21

    Hi Suzannah
    Spotting, nausea and lack of tender breasts doesnt mean that the pregnancy is ending
    Nausea is very common and normal in pregnancy.
    Spotting can be normal but does need to be reviewed at an Early pregnancy assessment unit to make sure that the pregnancy is developing well. Your GP can refer you to your local EPAU if you have not already been seen there.
    Cramping/abdo pain can also be normal, but does also need review.
    If you have not yet been seen, please make an appointment for asap with your GP who can refer you to the EPAU service.
    Please try not to worry. It is normal for pregnancy symptoms to come and go (like the sore breasts) so this does not mean that the pregnancy is ending because you do not have that symptom.
    Take good care of yourself
    Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

  • By vikali (not verified) on 3 May 2018 - 11:56

    Hi . This is my 4th time pregnancy i have a son of 2 and year Which was my first pregnancy then during my second pregnancy i had a misscarriage. And the third one was an etopic pregnancy for which i had and operation and now i did my test and it is positive . But now m confused over the vaginal discharge i have been spotting dark brown discharge for about a week now.. Im scared if something wrong.please help.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 May 2018 - 16:31

    Hi Vikali, Thank you for your comment.

    Spotting in early pregnancy can be common but as you have had this brown spotting for nearly a week, it is advisable that you see your GP. This doesn't mean that there is anything wrong but because of your previous pregnancy losses, the GP may want to refer you for an early scan. Keep an eye on what you are loosing and if you have any fresh red bleeding or abdominal pain then we would advise that you seek medical advise as soon as you can. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Neo (not verified) on 1 May 2018 - 19:49

    Hi, I’m 8 weeks pregnant and I had lower back pains for 2days, I think it was caused my standing up as I work in retail and I lift heavy boxes every day. Lately I’ve stopped feeling them and I don’t feel pregnant anymore but I do have times where I feel so sick after eating to a point where I want to vomit but I don’t. I’m going for my first scan to confirm if I’m pregnant on the 3rd May. I’m worried that I might not see a heartbeat as I don’t feel pregnant but I’m still feeling sick.

    I’m so confused.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 May 2018 - 12:10

    Hi Neo,

    It can be very common for pregnancy symptoms to come and go. Try and eat little and often as we appreciate that it can be difficult when you are feeling sick. It may be worth speaking to your employer about the heavy lifting that you do, they should perform a risk assessment in pregnancy so that you can still do your job but safely for pregnancy. Hope that your scan goes well today and if you need any advice then please email us on [email protected] Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By jen (not verified) on 24 Apr 2018 - 03:41

    hi there
    Im 7th weeks pregnant but my baby still has no heartbeat. This morning I have abdominal and lower back cramps with no bleeding at all. Im not feeling well and my body temp rises. Could this be a sign of possible miscarriage.


  • By Midwife @Tommys on 26 Apr 2018 - 13:29

    Hi Jen, Thank you for your comment.
    If it has been confirmed that your baby has no heartbeat on scan and you are now experiencing abdominal pain, then I'm sorry to say that this does shows signs of a miscarriage. If you are still experiencing abdominal pain or any bleeding then please seek medical advice. Your GP should be able to refer you for a scan to get a better idea of what is happening so please contact the GP or early pregnancy unit. We hope that you will be ok and please contact us any time if you need any further support or guidance, you can email on [email protected] Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Boity96 (not verified) on 17 Apr 2018 - 12:29

    Hi I am 5 weeks pregnant and I have abdominal pains sometimes it's on the right hand side and sometimes on left. I have pure white discharge and genital itching. Are this symptoms of miscarriage or my baby is fine. Thanks in advance

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Apr 2018 - 14:14

    Hi, Thank you for your comment.

    If you have a heavy white discharge and itching , this may be a sign that you have thrush and this can be common in pregnancy, if you see the GP they will be able to prescribe you some treatment that will ease the symptoms. However, as you have been experiencing abdominal pain then you need to be seen and checked over. With any abdominal pain or bleeding we advice that you seek medical advice from the GP or early pregnancy unit, so please contact either so that you can be checked over. Hope this Helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Wendy (not verified) on 11 Apr 2018 - 09:46

    Hello m three weeks pregnant and v been having light bleeding for 3 days now ,No pains ,no cramps ... M scared I don't want to have miscarriage... M not sure if the baby is still safe ... Pls advice me

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Apr 2018 - 11:49

    Hi Wendy
    If you have not already done so, please make an urgent GP appointment so that you can be referred to your local early pregnancy assessment unit for review there in the next 24-48 hours. If the bleeding becomes very heavy, where you are passing clots of blood, or if you develop severe abdominal pains, then please go straight to A&E to be seen there urgently. Spotting in early pregnancy can be normal, but does need to be investigated to be sure. Please do call us on 0800 0147800 if you wish to ask any further questions about your spotting. We are here Mon to Fri 9 am to 5pm
    All the best
    Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

  • 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

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