What does a miscarriage feel like?


by Stephanie Spencer |
Updated on

Whether you’ve gone through a miscarriage (1 in 4 women have) or not, a huge part of coming to terms with what you’ve been through and accepting that it might happen to you is talking about it.

The NHS define a miscarriage as ‘the loss of a pregnancy during the first 23 weeks.’ But of course, what it means to each individual is completely personal – the statistics only tell half the story.

Despite how common miscarriage is, it is very much a taboo subject. However, organisations such as the Miscarriage Association are working to change that.

Below, three brave women have decided to talk openly and honestly about their miscarriage experiences, in the hopes it will help others.

Miscarriage: real mum experiences

‘All we got to take home was a little candle…’

This is our second missed miscarriage, followed by a dilation and curettage

(D&C) in the last 3 months. Each time, my body either doesn’t realise that there is something wrong or doesn’t want to let go of the pregnancy.

As the kind and sympathetic nurse handed me the tiny candle that represents our second lost baby, I feel like a fool for having hoped that this time we would be taking home a baby and instead we are taking home a well-meaning little candle to remember the child who we will never meet.

Nothing can prepare for the despair, emptiness and heartbreak of a miscarriage. After our first at 12 weeks (during lockdown) I spiralled privately into overwhelming feelings of humiliation, shamefulness, self-hatred and sometimes intrusive thoughts of suicide.

Each day I tried to pick myself up and each day I would fail. I tried (and still do) to hide my tears from my lovely husband and my little boy.

I know that I am lucky to have my little boy and I feel selfish for asking the universe to give me another.

Something that I wasn’t prepared for was the wedge that miscarriage has driven between so very many of my relationships. After our first loss, I isolated myself from everyone, including my mum - believing that I had somehow let her down.

I resented friends who chose me to confide in about their own pregnancy news (despite knowing what had befallen us) and I have gradually distanced myself from them.

I know that our world will never be the same.

But I can tell you what I have taken from this experience.

I have learned that I do have some true friends; who have been an unexpected source of solace in my darkest time. I have found that I do still have hope that one day I’ll give my little boy a sibling and I’m starting to feel less humiliated by my losses. I have also realised how grateful I am to have my husband and little boy who bring joy and light to my life every day and whose love shields me from or pulls me back from the darkest thoughts that infiltrate my mind.

I write this honest account and share my raw and painful experience in the hope that it gives others who are suffering some validation that they are not alone in their thoughts and feelings – and that whatever they feel is ok. I believe that accepting yourself for all that you are, is the path to finding some peace.


‘Though we have lost, we have also loved. And for that alone, we are mothers.’

When I had my first miscarriage, I never could have imagined how emotionally painful it would be. Nothing could have ever prepared me for how my world would change. Losing a pregnancy does not only have physical effects on a woman. In my case, my recurrent miscarriages affected my emotional and mental health as well as my belief.

After every loss I experienced, seeing pregnant women everywhere made my heart ache. The pain was extremely overwhelming and so tangible it felt like it would kill me. My mind was flooded with questions. What made them different from me? Why was it their time to enjoy motherhood? What have they done to deserve this more than me? Why did this keep happening? Why?

One of the hardest things was life forcing me to move on. It’s a harsh reality. Nothing around me changed but I had lost my baby. I had to go through every month empty rather than feeling my baby grow.

The people around me told me I’d have children in the future and that I was still young. I was told “at least it happened early”. Though coming from a place of love, these things were hard to hear and added to my loneliness. It didn’t change the pain my heart felt, it just made me feel like I had to hide it.

From the moment I took a pregnancy test and saw it was positive, I felt like a mother and became a mother.

The pain of losing a baby is unimaginably difficult to put into words. It is terrifying. And to be brutally honest, it held me captive for a very long time.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my short pregnancies, my babies and what could have been, but I decided that I wasn’t going to be a prisoner to grief and I was going to embrace my identity as a mother, whether it be biologically or through adoption. I would be a mother one day.

Then I fell pregnant for the sixth time.

I would be lying if I said the pregnancy was filled with hope and me believing that I would hold my child this time around! I held on. Prayed on. My pregnancy was far from plain sailing but I was filled with an unexplainable sense of peace.

On the 19th of April 2019 my rainbow baby was delivered by emergency caesarean. A day I never thought I’d be privileged enough to experience.

So here I am to tell you that I see you! That it’s okay to identify as a mother but also okay for you to be celebrated. Though we have lost, we have also loved. And for that alone, we are mothers.


'My whole pregnancy had been a lie'

For the past 8 years it has always just been me and my husband. In September 2019, we decided to take the decision to try for a baby and took the approach of if it happens, it happens.

In May 2020, I found out I was approximately 5 weeks pregnant. Mixed feelings undertook us both – shock, happiness, anxiety, panic, excitement. After being just the two of us for so long, this was a lot to get our heads around.

At 8 weeks, we decided to tell our families. It got to week 10 and pregnancy had been a breeze, I had sore boobs, a bit of tiredness, but other than that hardly any symptoms. A couple of days before my first telephone appointment with the midwife, I had a tiny bit of spotting. It seemed so insignificant because it had stopped almost instantly, I did not even mention it.

My 12-week scan was booked in for a couple of weeks later and we were gearing up to tell the world.

The day after my appointment, the spotting restarted. Again, it stopped, and I did not worry. Then I had two more days of spotting, so I decided to call the midwife for advice. I was then referred to the EPU the next day.

The night before my appointment the bleeding got a little heavier and suddenly my boobs stopped hurting, I just knew something was not right.

I had a scan the next day and it was confirmed I had had a missed miscarriage.

This was a lot to get my head around, as in my eyes my whole pregnancy had been a lie. I felt so confused, angry and like a failure.

I opted for medication management over surgery, due to covid-19. This was agonising, lots of cramping, shivering, sickness, and diarrhoea and another 10-day bleed.

Four weeks later, pregnancy tests were still showing up as positive. Another scan revealed there was still some tissue left, so I was faced with surgery after all.

One week later, I went for my procedure.

I always knew a miscarriage was a horrible situation to go through, but never realised it could drag on so long and be so traumatic. I have not spoken of my experience much and I wish miscarriage could be something we could talk about more comfortably and freely.

I do not know how I feel about future pregnancy now as it is still too raw, but I do hope one day we will feel ready to try for our rainbow baby.


Common physical symptoms of miscarriage

In many cases you won’t know you’ve had a miscarriage. However there are some physical signs that occur:

  • Vaginal bleeding – from light brown discharge, to heavy bleeding and bright red blood.

  • Cramping and pain

  • Discharge of white-pink fluid or tissue from your vagina

  • Intuition – don’t dismiss a bad feeling. You know your body.

  • Sudden loss of early signs of pregnancy such as morning sickness/tender breasts.

If you experience any of these symptoms it is entirely reasonable to contact your midwife if you are concerned. If, however, you experience heavy and painful bleeding, severe abdominal pain and are feeling faint and light-headed you should immediately go to your nearest A&E department.

Ultimately, a miscarriage effects each woman in different ways - some women experience a long, drawn out miscarriage, most won’t even know they miscarried. Some will face surgery.

Remember there’s an 85% chance you won’t suffer a miscarriage and bear in mind even a woman who has had three miscarriages still stands a 65% chance of her next pregnancy being successful.

While it is a devastating thing to experience, sharing these experiences is vital to understanding that you're not alone. There are numerous phonelines, websites and peoplewho will listen and understand what you're going through. Above all, do not lose hope.

These baby loss stories were shared via the Miscarriage Association, you can read more real experiences here.

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