Signs & Symptoms

The most common signs of miscarriage are heavy bleeding, perhaps with blood clots, and strong period-type pains. Sometimes however a miscarriage can occur without any symptoms at all.

If a miscarriage is really under way, unfortunately it will take its course no matter how much we wish it wasn’t so. The signs of a miscarriage will depend on the gestation of your pregnancy. Most women will experience something similar to a heavy period, with slightly more cramping and bleeding than usual. Others can experience labour-like cramping, and pass large clots, particularly if it’s later in the first trimester.

In some cases, there are no signs or symptoms at all, and a woman will have no idea that anything is wrong until a routine scan shows that the baby has no heartbeat and stopped growing at an earlier time. This will obviously come as a huge shock and be devastating for the woman and her partner.

In general, it is best to see your healthcare professional if any of these occur:

  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • Dull lower back pain/pressure
  • Cramping
  • Changes to vaginal discharge

It is important to remember to use sanitary pads not tampons during a miscarriage, as these can lead to infection.

On rare occasions, miscarriages happen because the pregnancy develops outside the womb – most commonly in the fallopian tube. This is known as an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies are potentially serious as there’s a risk you could experience internal bleeding, and in some cases your fallopian tube can rupture. Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy usually appear between weeks 5 and 14 of the pregnancy.

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


Please remember this is a guide only. Get in contact with your healthcare professional if you are worried and in case of emergency, visit your nearest Emergency department or call 000.

Related Links

What is miscarriage?
Causes of miscarriage
Treatment and procedures