How Much Miscarriage Bleeding Is Normal?

The Difference Between a Hemorrhage and a Safe Amount of Blood

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A miscarriage is a pregnancy loss that takes place within the first 20 weeks of gestation—most miscarriages occur within the first trimester (the first 12 weeks). It is a process that can be painful for the mother both physically and emotionally. After you've been diagnosed with a miscarriage, it's normal to have vaginal bleeding, but how much blood is too much? How do you know whether you're bleeding a normal amount or hemorrhaging?

What's Normal During a Miscarriage

The bleeding associated with a miscarriage can be heavy with large clots, so that type of bleeding doesn't constitute a medical emergency. And it's normal to have abdominal cramping along with the bleeding. You will also likely pass tissue through your vagina, which will include the placenta and the gestational sac.

But it's important to roughly measure the amount of blood by wearing a menstrual pad during the miscarriage. If you are soaking through a menstrual pad in under an hour, call your doctor immediately because you should seek medical attention at once. You may be hemorrhaging and might need an emergency procedure called a dilation and curettage (D&C) to stop the bleeding.

If you are not bleeding that heavily but are concerned that your bleeding seems to be persisting for too long, you should know that it's normal that miscarriage bleeding may last for several days.

However, the quantity should not remain heavy for more than a few days. If you have had bleeding heavier than an average menstrual period for more than two or three days, it is a good idea to see your doctor to rule out complications.

What Is a D&C?

A D&C is a surgical operation that requires anesthesia and can be performed in either a hospital or a doctor's office.

During the procedure, a doctor dilates your cervix and scrapes your uterine lining. This will empty your uterus and stop the vaginal bleeding. You may have cramping during the procedure. If your miscarriage occurs during the first trimester, the procedure might be called a D&A, which stands for dilation and aspiration, because your doctor might use a tool called a suction curette instead of a sharp curette.

One benefit to a D&C is that it speeds up the miscarriage process and gets the pain over with more quickly. One downside, however, is that there are—like with any surgical operation—risks. Though complications are rare, the procedure could, for example, puncture the uterus, weaken the cervix, or scar the uterus. Or you could have a bad reaction to the anesthesia.

What to Expect After a Miscarriage

After the procedure, it's common to have vaginal bleeding and cramping for a few days. The amount of blood and cramping should gradually decrease over time. You should be able to return to work within a couple of days, and a doctor may prescribe you pain medications as you recover. You'll need to avoid tampons and intercourse for a week or two. Your period will likely return within two months, but the exact amount of time will depend on how far along you were in your pregnancy when the miscarriage occurred.


Hillard, Paula Adams. The 5-Minute Obstetrics and Gynecology Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008. Page 588.

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