Miscarriage - Symptoms 

Symptoms of miscarriage 

The most common sign of miscarriage is vaginal bleeding.

This can vary from light spotting or brownish discharge to heavy bleeding and bright red blood. The bleeding may come and go over several days.

However, light vaginal bleeding is relatively common during the first trimester of pregnancy (the first 12 weeks) and does not necessarily mean you are having a miscarriage.

If you have vaginal bleeding, contact your GP, maternity team or early pregnancy unit at your local hospital as soon as possible.

Find maternity services in your area.

Other symptoms of a miscarriage include:

  • cramping and pain in your lower abdomen
  • a discharge of fluid from your vagina
  • a discharge of tissue from your vagina
  • no longer experiencing the symptoms of pregnancy, such as feeling sick and breast tenderness 

When to seek urgent medical help

On rare occasions, miscarriages happen because the pregnancy develops outside the womb. This is known as an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies are potentially serious because there is a risk you could experience internal bleeding.

Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include:

  • persistent and severe abdominal pain
  • vaginal bleeding or spotting, commonly after the pain has started.
  • pain in your shoulder tip
  • feeling very faint and light-headed, and possibly fainting

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

If you experience any of the symptoms above, visit your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department immediately. If you are unable to travel, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.

Page last reviewed: 27/02/2013

Next review due: 27/02/2015


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The 6 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

CEJA123 said on 08 April 2014

I'm 7 weeks now, I had some pink when I passed urine over the weekend, yesterday it was blood, no pain. I phone my GP's surgery where a doctor phoned back almost immediately, informed me no pain was a good thing & advised me to go straight to A&E if I experienced any. He then organised a scan for Thursday. I have my first appointment with the mid-wife tomorrow (Wednesday) but not holding my breath, I have experienced a M/C before my first child over 14 years ago. I'm 35 with one child who is now 12, we are or were all looking forward to a new baby, we will just have to wait & see, keeping my fingers crossed.

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sparky_kh said on 21 March 2014

I would be interested to know how you all got on? I am around 9 weeks pregnant - my somewhat unexpected first after a seven year wait, at a grand old age of 41. About a week ago, I started getting some brownish spotting, but since yesterday it is more like a light period. I am convinced I have already miscarried - I have no pain, but also haven't experienced any normal symptoms of pregnancy (eg. morning sickness). My EPU can't fit me in until Monday morning...

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laurenjm14 said on 19 March 2014

At 8 weeks pregnant, I had some heavy bleeding and so contacted NHS24. All they could advise was to call the early pregnancy unit at my local hospital, and all EPU could advise was to call my doctor. Doctor advised me to call EPU back as there was nothing he could do. EPU said they would call back within 4 hours... and they never. I am now 10 weeks pregnant (thankfully everything is okay) but my experience with the NHS so far has been awful. Triage never even had a note of my booking bloods appointment so I'll be lucky to get my 12 week scan at approximately the right time. I also know of relatives and friends who have had a less than great experience.

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pumkin said on 10 March 2014

Im 40 years old and 11 weeks pregnant and been bleeding now for 5 days. I have mild stomach pains and worried sick that I am going to miscarry. Ive got a scan tommorow but im terrified. I feel like the odds are against me as im 40and running out of time

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bigmick1981 said on 25 February 2014

My wife is 6 weeks pregnant has started passing blood and what we assume are clots so phoned nhs 24 who advised to phone early pregnancy unit who advised to phone the doctors to get emergency referral for hospital. phoned the docs at 9-10 they said don't come in we will get a doctor to phone you back . 11-30 I phoned them again and they said sorry you are next to get call back . phoned at 12-30 and they said the doctor that does the call backs is away home ! But can have a appointment at 2-10 if we want . What is the nhs coming to !

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Mrsbuttmunch said on 23 February 2014

I'm around 7 weeks pregnant and spotting on and off, but as yet can't get past a receptionist to get to doctors and I can't go to early pregnancy unit without a referal from a doctor!? Why won't anyone help me get to the bottom of this, I lost a baby last year at 6 weeks, I'm 43 years old so more at risk!

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Molar pregnancies

Vaginal bleeding can also be caused by a molar pregnancy. This is a pregnancy where the placenta (the part that feeds the baby) has not developed normally, resulting in a mass of abnormal cells within the womb instead of a baby. A molar pregnancy is usually identified during the first ultrasound scan, at 10-16 weeks of pregnancy.

Read more about molar pregnancies.

Your antenatal care

When you become pregnant, you'll need to contact the NHS so that you can start your antenatal care. Find out what to expect