Question: Is it normal to have light or heavy bleeding after miscarriage? How long does bleeding last after a miscarriage?
Having a miscarriage in early pregnancy can be depressing.
A miscarriage is a sudden loss of your pregnancy before the age of viability (20 weeks gestation), and there are many reasons a miscarriage can happen.
Most times, in the first trimester, it happens becauses of chromosomal abnormalities. Other times, advanced age of the pregnant woman, drugs, vigorous exercise, diabetes, and hypertension can cause a miscarriage.
Early signs you will experience when having a miscarriage are bleeding, cramping and the sudden disappearance of symptoms of pregnancy.
It’s not uncommon to have vaginal bleeding without the death of your baby. A threatened miscarriage can occur with light spotting, and it’s still possible that you will continue with your pregnancy.
On the other hand, if you are already experiencing heavy vaginal bleeding with blood clots, its normal you will be concerned. The truth is, it’s difficult for your baby to survive after a heavy vaginal bleeding, and most likely, your womb is contracting to push out remaining fetal tissues.
If you’ve been diagnosed of a miscarriage, and yet, you are still bleeding after 2 weeks, its possible something is wrong, and I recommend you see your doctor for advice.
Worst still, if you had a surgical procedure to remove remnant of conception, and then, you start bleeding heavily, it is likely you have complications from the procedure.
Uterine rupture from a surgical procedure, vaginal infections, and incomplete miscarriage may cause you to bleed for a long time.
This article explains what’s normal after a miscarriage, types of miscarriage and bleeding duration you should expect, and when to worry if you are bleeding.
Types of miscarriage
If you are bleeding heavily after a miscarriage, you are not alone. Here’s an email I received from Sophia (one of my blog readers)
Hi, Doc, I’m 37 years old, and I have been experiencing light bleeding for about four days. Initially, I thought its nothing serious and wanted to wait till it stopped.
Unfortunately, it seems bleeding is getting worse, and I have excruciating cramps.
I’m six weeks pregnant, and I have never experienced this kind of bleeding in my other pregnancies. Last two weeks I informed my doctor about my pregnancy and there was nothing wrong with me.
Is the vaginal bleeding sign of a miscarriage or should I see my doctor earlier than scheduled?
Most times, when women have a miscarriage, they will experience light spotting from their vaginal that last only a few day. Then after, a massive bleeding with severe abdominal cramps follows.
Depending on the type of miscarriage, the duration and severity of bleeding will vary. However, if you are bleeding past two weeks after a miscarriage, I recommend you see a doctor.
1. Bleeding after threatened miscarriage
As the name suggests, a threatened miscarriage means there is a risk you could lose your pregnancy, and this happens if you experience irregular light vaginal spotting.
During a threatened miscarriage, you will experience pain in your lower abdomen and your back. This pain may be dull or sharp, and then, after vaginal examination by your doctor, your cervix is still closed.
The truth is, if you will miscarry, there is nothing that can stop it from occurring. Your body detects an abnormally formed baby in early pregnancy and washes it out from your womb.
Then again, your doctor will request you have plenty of bed rest as this seems to improve outcome, though, there is still lack of evidence to support this.
2. Bleeding after inevitable miscarriage
An inevitable miscarriage is diagnosed when you have much heavier vaginal bleeding with an open cervix.
After your doctor’s examination, if your cervix is open, it means you womb is already preparing to expel its content, and there is little chance your pregnancy will continue.
3. Bleeding after complete miscarriage
A complete miscarriage is the total removal of fetal tissues from within your womb. This could happen spontaneously through contraction of your uterus or surgical removal by your doctor.
Either way, if a miscarriage is complete, it’s still not abnormal that you will experience on and off bleeding that is light with mild cramping for a while.
If vaginal bleeding is lasting more than 2 – 4 weeks, inevitably, something’s wrong, and you must inform your doctor right away.
4. Bleeding after incomplete miscarriage
An incomplete miscarriage means that your cervix is open and some parts of the fetus have already been expelled out of your womb. This means that there are remaining fetal parts inside the uterus.
If this happens, a heavy bleeding that is continuous and long-lasting for weeks or months is common.
Frequently, it’s possible that without any treatment, you womb naturally contracts to expel its content completely. However, for quick relief, you may require surgical manual vacuum aspiration or dilation and curettage.
Bleeding after miscarriage How long does it last?
If you are bleeding after a miscarriage, it’s difficult to know how long bleeding will last. Some women experience spotting for one or two weeks that stops completely without any danger to their pregnancy.
Others experience light spotting for a while followed by a heavy bleeding that expels fetal tissues.
Having said that, if you have spotted more than 2 weeks from the start of bleeding, you should see your doctor for examination and other tests.
How to stop bleeding after a miscarriage
If you are experiencing any form of bleeding with or without blood clots or fetal tissues, it’s not a good sign. Any sort of bleeding must be check by your doctor to determine if there is any risk to your baby.
Here are some tests that will be carried out by your doctor.
1. An ultrasound scan
At your clinic visit, your OB/GYN doctor will recommend an ultrasound. This will determine if your baby is alive, and also if there are fetal parts still in your womb.
Remember that vaginal spotting during pregnancy does not always mean you will have a miscarriage. So, your doctor will use a probe inserted into your vagina (transvaginal ultrasound) or place on your abdomen (pelvic ultrasound) to know if there is a heartbeat or not.
If you’ve already had a miscarriage and still bleeding, you doctor clean up your womb through use of a D & C (dilatation and curettage).
2. Blood tests
At the clinic, you should expect other blood tests to be carried out. Your doctor will check hemoglobin level to determine if you’ve lost so much blood.
Another vital test to be carried out is human chorionic gonadotropin monitoring (HCG). This hormone will rise in early pregnancy, and if after 48 hours a repeat test shows your HCG levels are falling, its a sign of miscarriage.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Irregular bleeding after miscarriage, is it normal?
If you have an irregular bleeding after miscarriage, it’s normal that you will be concerned. But you shouldn’t, except if it’s lasting more than 2 – 3 weeks.
Vaginal bleeding after miscarriage usually ceases after your womb is completely cleared. During this time you may see black blood, brown discharge or sometimes bright red blood.
Talk to your doctor if spotting does not subside in 2 weeks.
2. Light bleeding after miscarriage, should I worry?
Light bleeding after a complete miscarriage is not abnormal and occurs as your womb contracts to constrict blood vessels and completely clear up your womb. So, DONT PANIC.
3. Heavy bleeding after miscarriage, is it normal?
Heavy bleeding days after miscarriage is not abnormal and it’s your womb pushing out fetal tissue. As your womb contract in the next few day, bleeding subsides, and then you will feel okay again.
On the other hand, long lasting period like bleeding after miscarriage may indicate some fetal parts are still within your womb. Talk to your doctor for assistance.
4. Bleeding after miscarriage stopped and started again
If you have light spotting that stopped and then started again, it’s still not abnormal after a miscarriage. Bleeding comes and goes and is accompanied with belly cramps.
So, don’t panic if you get an on and off bleeding after a miscarriage. You will feel okay in one or two weeks time.
5. Bleeding one week after miscarriage, is it normal?
If you are bleeding 1 week after miscarriage, it’s not abnormal. It takes some time for your womb to clean up itself completely. So, be patient.
6. Bleeding 2 weeks after miscarriage, is it normal?
If you are still bleeding 2 weeks after a miscarriage, its nothing abnormal except if bleeding is heavy with big blood clots and visible fetal parts.
See your doctor for examination and routine investigations.
7. Bleeding 3 weeks after miscarriage, should I be concerned?
Yes, you should. If you are still bleeding 3 weeks after miscarriage, then its possible you have an incomplete miscarriage. See your doctor.
Other causes of long-term bleeding after a miscarriage are vaginal infections, uterine infections, uterine and cervical wall perforation during surgical removal of the retained product.
8. Bleeding 4 weeks after miscarriage, what should I do?
If you had a miscarriage, and yet, after four weeks you are still bleeding, its time to see your doctor. Simple surgical procedures carried out by your doctor will completely clean up your womb.