First Trimester Miscarriage Symptoms

How to Tell If You're Having a Miscarriage

Symptoms of miscarriage in the first trimester

Verywell / Melissa Ling 

It's not always easy to tell whether you are having a miscarriage in the first trimester of pregnancy. For people who know they are pregnant, possible miscarriage symptoms can be challenging to interpret. And sometimes, a miscarriage doesn't cause any symptoms at all (this is called a missed miscarriage or silent miscarriage).

Signs like vaginal bleeding or cramping may not always be present right away nor are they strictly limited to miscarriage. Bleeding and uterine cramping can be present in normal pregnancies as well as ectopic pregnancies. Likewise, other clues suggesting a potential miscarriage, like a sudden disappearance of pregnancy symptoms, may be subtle.

If you are concerned about a miscarriage in the first trimester, it's essential to speak with a healthcare provider. Your practitioner can use diagnostic tests to help determine whether your symptoms mean a miscarriage. If you are in a later stage of pregnancy and worried about miscarriage, your first step should always be to call your healthcare provider.

Miscarriage Symptoms in the First Trimester

First, be sure that you are indeed having miscarriage symptoms before you worry too much. It's important to note, too, that these symptoms don't always mean that you are miscarrying. For example, mild abdominal cramping during pregnancy is rarely anything to worry about.

Two major symptoms of a miscarriage are vaginal bleeding and abdominal cramping.

Brown spotting can also occur in normal pregnancies, although you still should call your physician. Heavy and red vaginal bleeding is a more concerning symptom.

Other potential signs and symptoms of a first-trimester miscarriage include:

  • Feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Passing clots, which may contain blood mixed with fetal tissue
  • A gush of clear or pinkish vaginal discharge
  • Loss of pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness or sore breasts

While the sudden loss of early pregnancy symptoms can be linked to miscarriage, it is a less-likely sign. Some pregnancy symptoms naturally disappear or fluctuate as the pregnancy progresses. For instance, nausea and morning sickness often calm down naturally mid-pregnancy or sooner, and this disappearance may seem sudden to some people.

Follow your gut and talk to your healthcare provider if you feel like something is just not right.

Take a Pregnancy Test

If you previously had a positive test, take another one. If this pregnancy test is negative, you can likely assume you had a miscarriage.

If your test is positive, your pregnancy may still be viable. In this case, you will need to check with a healthcare provider to find out for sure. A pregnancy test may still be positive soon after a miscarriage because the pregnancy hormone (hCG) level has not decreased enough to make a pregnancy test negative.

If you are not sure whether you were pregnant in the first place, and your pregnancy test is negative after you had miscarriage symptoms, it's not possible to tell whether or not your bleeding was a miscarriage or a menstrual period (perhaps a late or unusual one). In this instance, report your experience to a healthcare provider if you are worried.

Also, note that in early pregnancy, it's best to not try to figure out whether you are miscarrying by taking multiple pregnancy tests to see if the line gets darker and darker. Home pregnancy tests cannot accurately judge your hCG levels and the darkness of the line can vary based on the time of day and amount of water you've been drinking.

See a Healthcare Provider

If you are not sure what your symptoms mean, a healthcare provider can perform more sensitive tests to determine if you are still pregnant. The wait for test results can be difficult, but sometimes a practitioner cannot determine immediately whether one set of test results means miscarriage.

You may have to wait for a follow-up ultrasound to find out if the fetus is still developing or for a repeat blood test to see if your hCG levels are rising or falling. Your practitioner will want to be sure of the answer before confirming a diagnosis of pregnancy loss.

A Word From Verywell

Worrying about a miscarriage is common in early pregnancy, especially if you have experienced a pregnancy loss before. Contact a healthcare provider if you experience miscarriage symptoms, and try to remain calm and seek support until you know for sure.

1 Source
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  1. UC Davis Health. Signs of early miscarriage.

Additional Reading

By Krissi Danielsson
Krissi Danielsson, MD is a doctor of family medicine and an advocate for those who have experienced miscarriage.