What Happens During a Miscarriage?

Depressed woman

If you are newly pregnant, you may want to know what happens during a miscarriage.

What Is a Miscarriage?

A miscarriage, known as a spontaneous abortion in the medical field, is the process in which a pregnancy ends on its own in the first 20 weeks of gestation. Miscarriages can be caused by many different reasons. In some cases the woman's body is not ready or able to carry the baby at that time. In other cases, the baby is not formed correctly or not developing as needed to survive. When the woman's body realizes that the fetus is not developing as needed, her uterus begins shedding the lining that holds the fetus in place. This leads to cramping and spotting or vaginal bleeding.

What Happens During a Miscarriage

Miscarriages happen most commonly during the first trimester of pregnancy, but can happen up to 20 weeks gestation. Most women are very tuned into their bodies when they are pregnant, so if the pregnant mother notices unusual symptoms, she should call her doctor.

The Signs of a Miscarriage

Certain symptoms are not normal during a pregnancy, which could indicate a miscarriage is pending. These symptoms are:

  • Vaginal bleeding that increases instead of subsiding
  • Menstrual type cramps in the abdomen or low back
  • Passage of blood clots in the toilet
  • Cessation of some of the pregnancy symptoms you previously had such as sore breasts or the baby moving
Miscarriage certificate

The Process of Miscarriage

What happens during a miscarriage is actual a form of labor. The uterus will contract and expel the fetus. Sometimes the entire tissue is expelled on it's own and sometimes it only partially expels on its own. Either way, a woman should go to her doctor to make sure all of the tissue is out. In some cases, she may require no treatment if the uterus is empty, especially if the miscarriage occurs early in the pregnancy. The doctor will do a vaginal exam following a miscarriage to see if the process is complete. If it's not, a procedure called dilation and curettage, also known as D&C, is performed. This procedure can be done in a labor and delivery room under general anesthesia or in the emergency room while the patient is awake and given painkillers for discomfort.

What to Do if You Are Having a Miscarriage

If you suspect you are having a miscarriage, you may notice that things are not quite right with the pregnancy. You may have cramps and bleeding. Call your doctor and tell him your symptoms. He may have you come in for a check up or advise you to bed rest, which means you will only get up from lying down to use the restroom or to get something to eat or drink. It is a good idea to have someone with you at all times to help you when needed or if the symptoms get worse. If the symptoms do not subside within a few days, your doctor may have you come in for a check up or ultrasound if he has not already had you do so. If the symptoms get worse, you may notice the following:

  • Severe cramping
  • Increased bleeding
  • Blood clots being passed in the toilet
  • Nausea
  • Throwing up
  • Severe diarrhea


Your doctor should do several things if he suspects you are threatening a miscarriage. First, he will make sure the fetus is no longer thriving by checking for a fetal heartbeat and possibly performing an ultrasound. With these tests, your doctor and you can be sure that the fetus is no longer viable. Miscarriages are quite common, but still upsetting for the mother and father. Your doctor should advise you as to when it is okay for you to try to get pregnant again. After a miscarriage, most women go on to have a completely healthy pregnancy.

What Happens During a Miscarriage?