First of all, if you’re asking What does a miscarriage look like? or What does a miscarriage feel like? because you’re worried you could be having a miscarriage, pick up the phone and give your doctor a call. Bleeding during pregnancy isn’t always a cause for concern, but it’s best to put your mind at rest.
No two women experience a miscarriage in the same way, whether physically or emotionally.
Just as we can’t tell you how you will respond emotionally to pregnancy loss, we can’t tell you that you will definitely experience certain symptoms during a miscarriage.
However, in this article, we’ll explain what a miscarriage can look like and feel like, and how long it can last.
Content warning: We’ll be exploring some potentially upsetting or triggering topics of pregnancy loss in this article. You don’t have to read this if you don’t want to.
We’ll also be primarily using the term “miscarriage” instead of our preferred “pregnancy loss”, to help people find this article, should they need it.
And if you want to talk to someone who has perhaps been through or is going through a similar experience, our Peanut community is always there.
In this article: 📝
- What happens during a miscarriage?
- How do I know if I’m miscarrying?
- What does a miscarriage look like and feel like?
- How long does a miscarriage last?
- How do I know if I had a miscarriage or my period?
- Can you have a miscarriage without symptoms?
- What happens if you have a miscarriage and don’t go to the doctor?
- Your experience of miscarriage
What happens during a miscarriage?
A miscarriage is your body’s response to a pregnancy that ends suddenly, of its own accord, within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
When a pregnancy ends, your body needs to remove the tissue that has developed in your uterus, and that’s when you may see some vaginal bleeding.
Sadly, once the miscarriage has begun, it can’t be stopped.
In the vast majority of cases, there’s nothing you can do to prevent a miscarriage (that’s right, it’s not your fault).
Most miscarriages happen because of “chromosomal abnormalities” – a genetic problem that occurs when the cells of the embryo are dividing.
With so many women experiencing pregnancy loss, we really need to talk about it more.
How do I know if I’m miscarrying?
So how do you know if you had a miscarriage?
Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if you’re experiencing a miscarriage.
Vaginal bleeding or even cramping aren’t only linked to pregnancy loss.
However, they are the most common signs of a miscarriage, so if you are experiencing vaginal bleeding or cramps in your lower abdomen, just above your pubic area, see your doctor as soon as possible.
How do you confirm a miscarriage at home?
There is no surefire way to confirm a miscarriage at home ‒ a doctor should be able to confirm whether you are pregnant or have had a pregnancy loss.
They will conduct an ultrasound to look for a heartbeat, along with possibly a blood test to check your hormone levels.
However, for an early miscarriage, it can be hard even for a doctor to confirm a pregnancy loss, so it may take a bit longer to be referred for tests.
Will a pregnancy test tell me if I miscarried?
No, pregnancy tests are not an accurate way to determine whether you’ve had a miscarriage.
The opposite can also be true ‒ for a very early pregnancy, you may be experiencing implantation bleeding and implantation cramps, but your pregnancy may not yet be showing as a positive result, as your hCG levels may not yet be high enough.
What does a miscarriage look like and feel like?
The symptoms of miscarriage will be different depending on your individual situation and how advanced your pregnancy is.
Generally speaking, vaginal bleeding and cramping are two of the most common experiences of people who have had miscarriages, but they can vary in their intensity or even not happen at all.
What an early miscarriage looks like?
So what does an early miscarriage look like?
At an early stage of pregnancy, miscarriage bleeding can start with light spotting and become heavier, or it may be heavy from the start.
You may also feel some cramping.
What a later miscarriage looks like
Symptoms can be similar for a later miscarriage, but the bleeding may be heavier with more noticeable blood clots or pieces of tissue.
Cramps can be more intense, and you might also experience contractions.
What does a miscarriage look like when you pass it?
It depends on the stage of your pregnancy.
If it’s an early miscarriage, it may look like brownish coffee grounds or simply a slightly heavier period.
If it’s a later miscarriage ‒ into your second trimester, for example ‒ you may notice more clots as you pass the miscarriage.
What does miscarriage blood look like?
Miscarriage blood can look similar to period blood, particularly during an early miscarriage.
However, it can also be heavier, usually with more clots.
What color is miscarriage blood? It can appear bright red, pink, or even browner in color.
What does miscarriage tissue look like?
Miscarriage tissue essentially looks like blood clots, similar to a heavy period.
They can vary in size, from a fraction of an inch to a few inches wide.
What does a miscarriage look like at 1 week?
At 1 week pregnant, you’re technically not pregnant ‒ your body is preparing for pregnancy.
So if you are wondering what a 1-week miscarriage baby looks like, it’s more likely to instead be an early period rather than a miscarriage.
What does a miscarriage look like at 2 weeks?
Some people have early miscarriage symptoms at 2 weeks, but, just as with week 1 of pregnancy, you’re not technically pregnant yet.
So it’s more likely to be an early period instead of a miscarriage at this point.
What does a miscarriage look like at 3 weeks?
Some people notice miscarriage signs at 2-3 weeks, which would be classed as a very early miscarriage.
This is typically the point that the zygote turns into a blastocyst, and makes its way to the uterus through the fallopian tube.
What does a miscarriage at 4 weeks look like?
What does a miscarriage look like at 4 weeks?
But a miscarriage at 4 weeks may look similar to a period, if a little heavier.
What does a miscarriage look like at 5 weeks?
At 5 weeks, the blastocyst has become an embryo, so a miscarriage at 5 weeks may have more noticeable blood clots than at 4 weeks.
What does a miscarriage look like at 6 weeks?
There’s less of a chance of miscarriage the further you get into pregnancy, and at 6 weeks, the chances drop to an average of 10%.
However, sometimes, they do happen, and at 6 weeks, a miscarriage may be heavier with more blood clots than an earlier pregnancy loss.
How do miscarriages start?
Every experience of pregnancy loss is different, just as everyone’s body is different, so there’s no single way to experience a miscarriage.
Some people find their miscarriages start with some light bleeding and mild cramping, while others feel pain more intensely with a sudden, heavier “gush” of blood.
It’s also worth remembering that light bleeding and mild cramping during pregnancy aren’t always a sign of a miscarriage, but it’s still worth visiting your doctor as soon as you can.
How long does a miscarriage last?
Again, this depends on the stage of pregnancy.
For an early miscarriage, you might have just a few hours of heavy bleeding followed by a few days of spotting.
With a miscarriage later in pregnancy, you could experience 1 to 2 weeks of bleeding, although it may stop and start.
How long does a miscarriage take once bleeding starts?
As we’ve said throughout, every pregnancy loss is different and can affect different bodies in different ways.
But, very generally speaking, once light bleeding starts, a miscarriage can take a few days to pass.
However, you may still experience some bleeding for up to two weeks afterward.
How do I know if I had a miscarriage or my period?
With early pregnancy loss (a miscarriage at 5 weeks or earlier), it can be very difficult to tell the difference between a miscarriage and a late period.
Many women likely experience early pregnancy loss without ever knowing they were pregnant.
However, it can be an upsetting thing to go through if you’re actively trying to conceive.
Just because it happened early, it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.
Miscarriage vs period
But how can you know if your bleeding is due to a miscarriage or period?
Many people who are trying to conceive will wonder at some point “Did I miscarry or is it my period?”.
If this is you, you’re certainly not alone.
The general rule is that the symptoms will be more intense if you’re experiencing an early miscarriage rather than your period:
- Heavier bleeding that lasts for longer than your normal period.
- Blood that is an unusual color ‒ usually darker.
- Blood clots that you don’t normally have.
- More painful cramps.
Can you have a miscarriage without symptoms?
In some cases – and this can be particularly tough to go through – your pregnancy can end without you realizing.
Sometimes called a “missed miscarriage”, a miscarriage without symptoms means that you don’t have the physical symptoms of miscarriage that we looked at above, but sadly, the embryo in your uterus has died.
A miscarriage without symptoms might only be detected during an ultrasound scan, when the baby’s heartbeat can’t be found.
In this situation, your doctor may suggest waiting for the physical process of miscarriage to start on its own, or they may recommend medication or surgery to help the process along.
Can you have a miscarriage without bleeding?
Yes, it is possible to have a miscarriage with no noticeable symptoms ‒ no bleeding, no cramping, no pain.
These are known as missed miscarriages.
But there are some other symptoms that you may not be aware of:
- Less obvious pregnancy signs.
- Intense nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
- Pain in your lower back.
- Negative pregnancy tests.
Is a miscarriage painful?
Sometimes, yes, but not always.
Some of our Peanut community have reported cramping that feels similar to period cramps, sometimes more painful or lasting longer.
And some have said they experienced no significant pain at all.
What happens if you have a miscarriage and don’t go to the doctor?
It’s important to visit a doctor as soon as you think you may be having a miscarriage.
This is because embryonic or fetal tissue may not pass completely, which can cause sepsis or infection if not removed, which can be dangerous ‒ even fatal.
So please, if you think you may be having a miscarriage, visit your doctor ‒ we understand that, in this time of changing regulations and misinformed politics, there is fear about visiting a doctor for a miscarriage, but it’s better not to risk your health, just in case.
What should you not do after a miscarriage?
First, do not blame yourself.
Unfortunately, miscarriages sometimes just happen, often with no apparent cause at all.
Take some time for yourself ‒ you may be feeling tender or upset, which are both totally valid.
It’s also important not to have penetrative sex until your miscarriage symptoms have passed, which can take a few weeks.
And if you’re TTC (trying to conceive), it’s advised to wait 3 months before sex to conceive, to allow your uterus to heal and your menstrual cycle to get back to normal.
If you experienced an early miscarriage (before 6 weeks), it’s recommended to rest for a week ‒ you can still work, but if you have a more labor-intensive job, it might be worth asking for some time off to recover.
However, it depends on how you’re feeling, too ‒ if your cramping and bleeding are lasting longer than anticipated, take as much time as you need, and speak with your doctor.
How can I clean my uterus after miscarriage at home?
There is no safe way to clean your uterus at home unless prescribed by a doctor.
That’s why it’s important to visit your doctor if you think you may be having a miscarriage, to ensure that the proper medical protocol is followed so you have no tissue left, and to avoid the risk of sepsis or infection.
Your experience of miscarriage
Going through miscarriage, whatever the stage of your pregnancy, can be a difficult experience.
You might feel sorrowful, shocked, angry, or a whole host of other emotions – or you might not feel much at all.
There’s no single “right” response here.
Whether you want some quiet time alone to reflect or you want to cry on a friend’s shoulder, do whatever you need to do to get through this.
And remember, we’re here for you, always.