A miscarriage can occur suddenly or over a number of weeks. The symptoms are usually vaginal bleeding and lower tummy pain. It is important to see your doctor or go to the emergency department if you have signs of a miscarriage.
The most common sign of a miscarriage is vaginal bleeding, which can vary from light red or brown spotting to heavy bleeding. If it is very early in the pregnancy, you may think that you have your period.
Other signs may include:
- cramping pain in your lower tummy, which can vary from period-like pain to strong labour-like contractions
- passing fluid from your vagina
- passing of blood clots or pregnancy tissue from your vagina
If you think you are having a miscarriage
If you are concerned that you are having a miscarriage, call your doctor or midwife for advice and support.
Keep in mind that many women experience vaginal spotting in the first trimester of pregnancy that does not result in a miscarriage.
If you are alone, consider calling your partner or a friend for help and support.
If you have very heavy bleeding, strong pain or feel unwell, call triple zero (000) or have someone take you to your nearest emergency department.
What happens if you miscarry at home
Some women miscarry at home before they have a chance to see their doctor or get to the hospital.
If this happens, then:
- use pads to manage the bleeding
- if you can, save any pregnancy tissue that you pass, as your doctor may recommend it is tested to see why your miscarriage happened
- take medications such as paracetamol if you have pain
- call your doctor or midwife
There is a chance you may recognise your baby in the tissue that you pass, but often the baby is too small to recognise, or may not be found at all. It is normal to want to look at the remains, but you may decide you do not want to. There is no right or wrong thing to do.
Some women miscarry while on the toilet. This can also happen if you are out and about, or in hospital. There is no right or wrong way to handle this.
Read more about miscarriage:
- What is a miscarriage?
- Types of miscarriage
- How miscarriage is treated
- What really happens during a miscarriage
- Your health after a miscarriage
- What happens after a miscarriage
- Emotional support after miscarriage
- Fathers and miscarriage
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436, 7am to midnight (AET) to speak to a maternal child health nurse for advice and emotional support.
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Last reviewed: August 2019