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.

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.

Page last reviewed: 27/02/2013

Next review due: 27/02/2015