Miscarriage Bleeding

There is no doubt that experiencing a miscarriage can be heart-wrenching. It can easily leave a woman (and her partner) emotionally distraught. Fear of the unknown can serve to make this worse. Many women know that there is bleeding with almost every miscarriage, but they might not know what to expect. Miscarriage bleeding can vary significantly from one women to the next, with no apparent reasons why. We can help you understand how much miscarriage bleeding is normal. Always remember that if the bleeding is heavier than you are comfortable with, or if you are frightened by the amount of blood, always get in touch with your doctor.

What Does Miscarriage Bleeding Look Like?

The most common sign of a miscarriage is vaginal bleeding. It might be very light, almost spotting and nothing more, or it might be bleeding that is much heavier than a normal period. It might last for a few days, or it might go on for a few weeks. In addition to the bleeding, there could be blood clots, either large ones or small ones, and discharge that appears to be tissue. There can also be cramping, either very light or heavy, almost like contractions. However, there are also some women who miscarry without a single sign of it; they learn that their baby has died during a routine ultrasound, but there is no bleeding to warn them.

Miscarriage bleeding can be different for every woman, as these testimonies show. This woman was only two or three weeks pregnant at the time of her miscarriage:

"I missed my period, and I thought I might be pregnant. But before I had a chance to take the test, I started bleeding. It happened very suddenly, literally in the middle of the night – I woke up and was covered in bright red blood. The sheets were covered, too. There hadn't been any pain to wake me, just the blood. The cramping started as soon as I got out of bed, though, and it continued for two solid days. There were blood clots in there, large pieces that looked like tissue. I also felt very strange, like I had the flu, and my ankles were swollen from water retention. I looked awful, quite frankly, and I felt even worse. The blood began to taper off rather quickly after those two days, and I soon felt much better. Even though I never took a test, it was obvious what had happened."

This woman was eight weeks’ along when she miscarried:

"I had brown spotting for a few days, and lots of cramping to go along with it. But then the cramps got much worse, and I had a feeling that I was losing the pregnancy. It went on for four days, and I had to take some pain medication sometimes, because it got rather bad. But then the cramping abruptly stopped and I felt something more than the spotting come out of me – when I went to the bathroom I found a mess in my underwear. It looked like a small placenta and a small sac, with what looked like an embryo inside. I was shocked that I could actually see that."

This woman was at 11 weeks’ gestation when she lost her baby:

"I had really light discharge, a light pink, for two days. I thought it was just normal for that phase of the first trimester. But then I started bleeding like a period for one day, and the second day it got much worse. For a few hours I was soaking through pads every thirty minutes or so – it was pretty heavy. The cramping wasn't as bad as I expected. The next time I went to the toilet, I felt a large clot come out of me. It was dark red and surprisingly large. I was surprised that it didn't hurt when it came out! There was much more bleeding after that, but the worst of it was over."

How Long Does the Bleeding Last after Miscarriage?

Miscarriage bleeding can last for only a few days, or it might last for a few weeks. Though it might be tempting to use tampons to stem the bleeding, which is not a good idea, because it can lead to a risk of infection. By using pads you can not only mitigate the infection risk, but also judge the amount of blood you have lost more accurately. If you are using more than one pad per hour, this is a serious situation – you should go to the emergency room. More than one pad an hour indicates the potential for hemorrhaging. This kind of serious bleeding might require surgery or a blood transfusion to keep you healthy.

When to Worry

Miscarriage bleeding that lasts for longer than two weeks calls for a visit to the doctor. You might have tissue that has not yet been expelled, which means an incomplete miscarriage. So your doctor will need to perform an ultrasound. If you have an incomplete miscarriage, you might have to have a surgical procedure to correct the problem.

What Is Incomplete Miscarriage?

Sometimes a baby dies in the uterus, but the body doesn't expel the fetus or the placenta. In that case, the miscarriage is considered "incomplete" with the following symptoms: the cervix is dilated, there might be bleeding, some tissue still remains in the uterus. The incomplete miscarriage will complete itself over time. But in some cases, the woman will retain the placenta, or even the fetus, though she is bleeding and cramping. An incomplete miscarriage usually requires surgery or special medications to finish the process.

Keep in mind that this is different from a "missed miscarriage." A missed miscarriage is a pregnant that is no longer viable, but has not been expelled from the body. The cervix remains closed and the bleeding is either extremely light or not there at all.

Symptoms of Incomplete Miscarriage

The most common symptoms of incomplete miscarriage are bleeding and cramping. These are experienced in the vast majority of cases, and might be accompanied by other issues, such as water retention, flu-like symptoms, and the like. Sometimes cramping and bleeding will continue for weeks, indicating that there is more tissue in the uterus that has not yet been expelled.

Treatments for Incomplete Miscarriage

When the doctor determines that a piece of tissue has been left over from the miscarriage, he or she might perform a D&C, or dilation and curettage. This procedure is usually done under general anesthesia, is very quick, and easily removes the tissue that has been left behind. After a D&C, you might feel better as soon as you wake up. There are other options, such as medications that will help your body expel the remaining tissue naturally; however, be sure to discuss the risks of these medications with your physician prior to making a decision.