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Miscarriage and pregnancy loss

Miscarriage is the most common form of pregnancy loss, a miscarriage is when a baby dies in the uterus during pregnancy up to 23 weeks and 6 days.

Signs of a miscarriage

One of the main symptoms of a miscarriage is vaginal bleeding or spotting, which can be experienced alongside cramping and pain in your lower abdomen. Sometimes there are no signs at all.

If you’re concerned you should contact a GP or midwife as soon as possible.

They will be able to refer you to a pregnancy unit or maternity ward, depending on the stage of your pregnancy. An ultrasound scan may be performed and a doctor or midwife will talk to you about what will happen next.

What causes a miscarriage?

There is still a lot we don’t know about why miscarriages happen, this means you might never find out the cause of your loss even if you have investigations.

It can be difficult to cope with not having a reason for your miscarriage, you can get free support from charities such as:

The following factors will not cause a miscarriage and are common misconceptions:

  • Exercising during pregnancy (although talk to your GP or midwife about the type and intensity of exercise that is suitable for you)
  • Going to work, including work that involves sitting or standing for long periods
  • Lifting or straining
  • Having sex
  • Being stressed or depressed, although it’s important to speak to your GP or health visitor if you are experiencing emotional problems
  • Having a shock or fright
  • Travelling by air
  • Consuming spicy food

Having a miscarriage does not necessarily mean you will have another one in a future pregnancy.

Recurrent miscarriages (three or more in a row) are rare, most will go on to have a successful pregnancy. If you’ve experienced recurrent miscarriages please speak to your GP for advice.

Following a miscarriage

Having a miscarriage can be difficult both emotionally and physically, every pregnancy loss is unique and there is no right or wrong way to feel. You might experience a range of emotions, such as shock, anger and guilt, but it’s important to note that most miscarriages can’t be prevented and are not your fault. You should never blame yourself if you have had a miscarriage.

Counselling can be sought at some hospitals, and you might benefit from contacting charities for free advice and support such as:

Useful links

Page last reviewed: 26-01-2022

Next review due: 26-01-2025