If you think you could be miscarrying
An early miscarriage (in the first few weeks of pregnancy) can start like a period and progress to heavy bleeding, with blood clots and quite severe cramping pains. You should contact your midwife or antenatal unit as soon as possible if you have already had an antenatal appointment and your GP if you have not.
If you are bleeding and are more than six weeks pregnant, you may be referred for an ultrasound scan to see if your baby has a heartbeat. Sometimes the bleeding stops by itself and your pregnancy will carry on normally.
Your clinician may ask you simply to wait for 7-14 days, for the tissues and embryo to be passed naturally, vaginally. This will look like heavy bleeding with some clotting.
You may be given to tablets, to take orally or vaginally, which will help the pregnancy to pass vaginally.
You will be given support during this difficult time.
If a miscarriage happens later in pregnancy, you may have vaginal bleeding and severe, cramping pains, as if you are going into an early labour. Alternatively, you may notice that your baby is moving less often or not at all. If you experience any of these symptoms then you should see your midwife or GP immediately or go to your local accident and emergency department. If you are under 18 weeks pregnant you can self refer into any early pregnancy unit based in your local hospital.
Some women can find out that their baby has died only when they have a routine scan. If they have had no other symptoms, this can come as a terrible shock, especially if the scan shows that the baby died days or weeks before. This is called a ‘missed miscarriage’ or a ‘silent miscarriage’.
Depending on your stage of pregnancy, you may be able to choose to have a small operation, usually done under general anesthetic. This gently opens the neck of the womb and removes the pregnancy by suction. In the later stages of pregnancy your clinician may need to induce an early labour.
A miscarriage after 24 weeks is known as a stillbirth. Read about this in our Questions section.