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 doesn't necessarily mean you're 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.

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 as there's a risk you could experience internal bleeding.

Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy may include:

  • persistent and severe abdominal pain, usually on one side
  • vaginal bleeding or spotting, commonly after the pain has started
  • pain in your shoulder tip
  • diarrhoea and vomiting
  • 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're unable to travel, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.

Molar pregnancies

In rare cases, vaginal bleeding can also be caused by a molar pregnancy. This is a pregnancy where the placenta (the part that feeds the baby) hasn't 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 to 16 weeks of pregnancy.

Read more about molar pregnancies.

Last updated: 05 November 2015

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