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Symptoms and Signs of Miscarriage


Updated June 02, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

An impending miscarriage will often have some distinct symptoms, such as vaginal bleeding and abdominal cramping, but having these symptoms in pregnancy does not always mean a miscarriage. If you have any of these symptoms, please see a doctor as soon as possible for a medical evaluation.

Vaginal Bleeding

Bleeding or spotting is the first sign of a miscarriage for many women. Although vaginal bleeding is nearly always scary, remember that even heavy bleeding does not always equal a miscarriage. Sometimes bleeding might happen due to cervical irritation or the process of implantation, and it may stop and the pregnancy may continue without further problems. About 10% of all pregnant women experience vaginal bleeding at some point during the pregnancy.

Report vaginal bleeding at any point in pregnancy to a medical practitioner. He will probably have you come in for an exam to see what’s going on.

Severe Abdominal Pain

Severe pain in the abdomen can be a symptom of an ectopic pregnancy, which is a life threatening condition that occurs when a baby is implanted outside the uterus. Severe pain in early pregnancy, especially if it is on one side of the abdomen, should always be investigated as an emergency. Milder cramping that is similar to menstrual cramps can occur in normal pregnancies and is not necessarily a sign of miscarriage.

Fading Pregnancy Symptoms

One other common concern in early pregnancy is fading pregnancy symptoms, such as loss of morning sickness or breast soreness. This is an unreliable indicator of loss; symptoms may fluctuate for any reason and so should not be considered cause to worry -- although it should be mentioned to a doctor at the next scheduled appointment.

Not Feeling the Baby Move (Late Second/Third Trimester)

In the second half of pregnancy, if you have begun to feel the baby move, your caregiver will probably advise you to call if a certain amount of time passes that you don’t feel any movements. Your practitioner will give you instructions on when to call for an evaluation, but if you are not feeling movement under those guidelines, your doctor may ask you to come in for fetal heart monitoring to make sure that your baby is okay.

Preterm Labor

In the second or third trimester, any signs of preterm labor should result in an immediate call to one’s practitioner and possibly a trip to the emergency room, depending on your doctor’s advice. Signs of preterm labor include:

  • Contractions every 10 minutes or more frequently
  • Vaginal discharge changes
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Cramps that feel like menstrual cramps
  • Dull backache

If You Have Miscarriage Symptoms

If you are having miscarriage symptoms, remember to see your doctor as soon as possible for diagnostic testing. Your pregnancy may still go on to be normal, or you may indeed be having a pregnancy loss.

If your doctor does end up diagnosing a miscarriage, remember that miscarriage causes are rarely your fault. Please take care of yourself and look for good support resources to help you get through the experience.


March of Dimes Foundation. "Preterm Labor and Birth: A Serious Pregnancy Complication." Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center. March 2006. March of Dimes Foundation. 20 Sep 2007.

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