Symptoms of miscarriage

Miscarriage is more common than you may realise. The majority of miscarriages happen before others, and sometimes even the mother herself, 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 Anonymous (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 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 Anonymous (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 Anonymous (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.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 21 Aug 2017 - 09:34

    Thank you for replying its good to know that there is a site where we could voice our concerns and actually receive feedback, I'm just extra concerned following a stillbirth 6 months ago due to a cord accident at 37weeks .

    For now the brown discharge is still present but not as much as it was....I will monitor it further though.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 23 Aug 2017 - 16:25

    We are here for you if you have any questions or worries that you need to talk through. Please stay in contact and call us on 0800 0147 800 9-5 weekdays.
    With love and healing
    Anna- Tommy's Midwife

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 10 Aug 2017 - 00:36

    I'm a 20 year old and I suspect a miscarriage..
    I'm on the pill, but the past 2-3 weeks have been somewhat kind of different.
    First, about 2 weeks or so ago, I noticed that my breasts were really sore and any kind of touch would give a tender kind of pain. (Keep in mind, I dislike condoms!)
    Today, I noticed a "rusty metal" kind of odor. Went to the bathroom and had a very thick flow and bleeding.
    Last week, in the shower, as I wash my privates, I noticed this slime-like substance coming out.. is it possible that I miscarried? Last penetration was about 4 weeks ago.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 Aug 2017 - 11:51

    Hi Thank you for your comment.

    It is difficult to say if you have had a miscarriage or not, if you are taking the pill properly then it is 99% effective against pregnancy but if you have missed a pill then there is always a chance that a pregnancy could happen.
    If your period is due then the sore breasts could just of been related to your menstrual cycle but again without a positive pregnancy test it difficult to say.

    If you have miscarried then you may not get a positive pregnancy test now but if your bleeding continues and it is heavy with clots then you need to seek medical advice. If you are concerned then it would be advisable for you to see your GP especially if your bleeding is heavy and not normal for you. Hope this helps, take care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 6 Mar 2017 - 16:16

    Hi there. It is possible that you have experienced an early miscarriage. You need to go to visit your GP or local early pregnancy assessment unit if you are still bleeding and having abdominal pain. They can scan you and take bloods at the early pregnancy unit.
    If you are bleeding heavily, more than a period, then i would suggest you go to minors in A&E for urgent assessment. Please take care of yourself.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 6 Mar 2017 - 14:41

    I just need some advice please,not sure what is happening to me.i take a test last month and it show positive and last Sunday i see the light blood but it was just that,during the week the blood got worst and a lot of pain,on Friday it was very worst it feel like it was time to give birth so much pain,and a lot of blood and a lot of clots,please can you tell me whats happening to me?

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