What is a miscarriage? How do I know if I am having a miscarriage?

A miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a baby in the womb. The United Kingdom recognises a miscarriage up to 23 weeks and 6 days of gestation, with a loss beyond 24 weeks being classified as a stillbirth. It is important to note, the definition of miscarriage varies in different countries.

Miscarriage is associated with a variety of symptoms, occurring rapidly or throughout the course of several weeks. One in five women experiences a miscarriage during early pregnancy (first trimester)- without even realising it. Common symptoms of a miscarriage include period-like pains and vaginal bleeding which vary between light red or brown spotting to heavy bleeding.

Other signs and symptoms may include:

  • Lower abdominal pain or cramping
  • Vaginal spotting and/or foul-smelling discharge
  • Discharge of vaginal tissue and/or blood clots
  • Reduced symptoms of pregnancy (such as morning sickness, food aversions, breast tenderness etc).

If you suspect you may be having a miscarriage, you should contact your general practitioner (GP) and/or access local support resources.