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What is miscarriage?

A miscarriage is when a pregnancy ends within 23 weeks and six days of starting.

Please note: Some advice, such as visiting a GP face-to-face, may not be relevant while COVID-19 social distancing measures are in place


Miscarriages are common, and some people aren’t aware they are pregnant when they have them.

Among women who know they're pregnant, it's estimated about 1 in 8 will miscarry.

What are the symptoms of a miscarriage?

Bleeding from your vagina is the main sign. Bleeding or spotting may take place over time.

The blood may be dark or bright red in colour and could be light or heavy. You may notice blood clots or stringy bits. It is possible that you may pass a recognisable foetus.

Some bleeding or spotting is also normal in a pregnancy – it isn’t always a miscarriage.

You may also get cramps or pain in your lower tummy.

When should I see a GP?

As soon as you notice any unusual bleeding, see your doctor.

Tell them you’re pregnant and your symptoms so they can decide if you need an emergency scan.

If you have sharp tummy pain, one-sided pain, pain in your shoulders and/or pain when trying to poo, go to A&E. These are signs of an ectopic pregnancy (when a pregnancy develops outside the womb) which can be dangerous.

What happens if I think I am having a miscarriage?

You'll usually be referred to a hospital for tests and an ultrasound.

If a miscarriage is confirmed, a doctor or midwife will talk to you about what choices you have.

You may have some pregnancy tissue which will pass through your body in one or two weeks. Sometimes you will be given medicine which can help this tissue pass. You can also have minor surgery if you don’t want to wait for the miscarriage to pass.

A miscarriage can be a difficult and emotional experience, so the hospital or your doctor may suggest counselling groups to help.

When can I try to get pregnant again?

You can try and get pregnant as soon as your symptoms have passed and you feel emotionally and physically strong enough.

Having a miscarriage doesn’t mean you’re more likely to miscarry again and most women are able to go on and have a healthy pregnancy.

Find more advice, help and support:

Visit the NHS website