Signs of Miscarriage

Signs of Miscarriage

Knowing the signs of a miscarriage is critical for pregnant women. Miscarriages are the most common form of pregnancy loss, and generally occur before 20 weeks of gestation. So how do you know if you’re experiencing a miscarriage? Some of the signs and symptoms are clear-cut, while others can be confused with other pregnancy symptoms.

Just because you don’t experience the normal symptoms of pregnancy doesn’t mean that you will have a miscarriage. Some women do not feel nausea or breast tenderness. Some women do not crave weird foods. Some women do not bleed at all throughout their pregnancy. Each woman and pregnancy is unique. Knowing your body during pregnancy may be a challenge, especially for first-timers. Knowing what signs to look for to detect a miscarriage at its beginning can prevent the miscarriage and possibly prevent future miscarriages from occurring. Sometimes there isn’t any sign of a miscarriage at all. The most common signs of miscarriage include:

  • Vaginal bleeding: Bleeding occurs at some point in 70 percent of all pregnancies, but this is the number one sign of an incipient miscarriage. It’s very important that you understand the difference between spotting and bleeding, and any time you see blood, you should go to the doctor to have yourself and your baby examined.
  • Cramping: Cramping during pregnancy is very common, even with low-risk pregnancies. It pretty much comes with the territory. However, if your cramps are coupled with other problems such as bleeding, painful contractions, or severe back pain, you should take this as a warning sign that a miscarriage is occurring.
  • Loss of pregnancy symptoms: If you suddenly notice a decrease in pregnancy symptoms, and you’re still in the stages during which you should be having these symptoms, you may want to contact your doctor. The absence of nausea and breast tenderness, or weight loss during the early weeks, are signs of a miscarriage.
  • Lower back pain: Back pain and pregnancy are best friends. But severe back pain, especially when there are other problems such as bleeding and cramping, is not okay. It’s a very common warning sign of a miscarriage, especially if the pain begins in the lower abdomen and moves to the lower back.
  • Abdominal pain: Generally abdominal pain is not a reason to panic, unless the pain is severe and coupled with cramping and/or bleeding. There could be a number of reasons why you’re experiencing abdominal pain, including miscarriage. If you’re worried, contact your doctor.
  • Labor contractions: If you begin feeling painful labor contractions before 20 weeks of gestation and they are happening every five to twenty minutes, you should call your doctor immediately. Painful contractions should not be confused with Braxton Hicks contractions. The biggest difference is that Braxton Hicks contractions are false contractions and generally do not cause pain. They can begin as early as six weeks into your pregnancy, but they are infrequent and irregular. Labor contractions early in your pregnancy are a good sign of a miscarriage.

Length of Pregnancy

Some of the signs of miscarriage depend on how long you’ve been pregnant. To help you we’ve put together some guidelines:

  • 0-6 Weeks Pregnant- You may think you’ve had a heavy period
  • 6-12 Weeks Pregnant- You may experience pain, cramping and/or bleeding
  • 12-20 Weeks Pregnant- You may think you’re experiencing labor during the miscarriage due to the intense pain and bleeding

Who Should Watch For Signs of a Miscarriage?

All women should watch for signs and symptoms of a miscarriage, the same way they would watch for symptoms of an illness like the flu. Miscarriages occur in approximately 20 percent of all known pregnancies. When you add in the number of women who do not know they are pregnant, the rate jumps from 20 percent to 60 percent. Plus, of the women who miscarry 20 percent of them have recurring miscarriages. Unfortunately there are numerous reasons for miscarriages. Learn more about miscarriage here.

[Page updated June 2014]