Missed miscarriage - information and support

Missed miscarriage can come as a big shock as there are none of the usual signs of miscarriage, such as bleeding or pain.

Missed miscarriage means that the baby has stopped growing or died but there are no miscarriage symptoms such as bleeding or pain. It can also be called a delayed miscarriage. 

As the baby stays in the womb and there are no miscarriage symptoms the mother may not realise anything is wrong until she attends a routine scan appointment.

Missed miscarriages are most often discovered as part of your antenatal care.  The ultrasound scan may reveal that your baby has no heartbeat, or that your baby is too small for the date of your pregnancy.

If a missed miscarriage is diagnosed during your antenatal scan, you will be offered several options. 

  • You can choose whether to opt for expectant management and let the miscarriage end naturally,
  • You can choose whether to take medicine to bring on the miscarriage more quickly. 

In 50 percent of missed miscarriages, bleeding will occur naturally at some point.

In around 85% of women who choose to take medicine it takes a few hours to help begin the process of losing the pregnancy.

If neither option is successful, you will be offered surgery to complete the process.

How will all this happen?

If a missed miscarriage is discovered at your antenatal scan, you will be given some time to take in the news and your options will be explained. The decision of how to proceed is completely up to you. If you want to go home and have time to think about what’s happened, you will be given a range of contact numbers for help, support and advice.


Read more about miscarriage management

  • Sad woman talking to health professional.

    Expectant management

    Letting your miscarriage happen naturally is also called ‘expectant 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.


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

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