The Miscarriage Process


Most miscarriages begin away from the hospital. Like all births, miscarrying can take anywhere from under an hour to days or even weeks to complete (see ‘Types of Miscarriage’). Miscarrying is a natural process and happens when a baby hasn’t formed completely.

Except for the timing, the miscarriage process usually happens in the same way. A fast miscarriage can be really shocking and frightening once the process begins to happen. If it is your first pregnancy and you don’t know what to expect it can be especially frightening. Contact your doctor or midwife if you begin to have miscarriage symptoms. Though there is seldom anything that can stop the process of miscarriage once it has begun, it can be reassuring to speak to your doctor or midwife. They can walk you through what to expect and help you navigate the physical process of the miscarriage. They can help you decide whether you want to complete the process at home or at the hospital.

A typical miscarriage process that occurs at home: 

  • If you refer to your doctor or midwife and decide to miscarry at home, here are a few suggestions to help in the process.
  • Sit over the toilet with a pillow behind your back or a warm compress over your abdomen while you dispel the tissue.
  • Choose to dispel the tissue over a large bowl if you wish to bury the remains in a memorial service or have the remains examined by your doctor or midwife.
  • Once the miscarriage is over, call your doctor or midwife to schedule a visit. Although miscarriage is a natural occurrence it is important you are examined to be sure the miscarriage is complete and there is no risk of infection.

Miscarriage at the hospital (D&C): 

A D&C also known as dilation and curettage, is a surgical procedure often performed after a first trimester miscarriage.

About 50% of women who miscarry do not undergo a D&C procedure. Women can safely miscarry on their own with few problems in pregnancies that end before 10 weeks. After 10 weeks, the miscarriage is more likely to be incomplete, requiring a D&C procedure. Choosing whether to miscarry naturally or to have a D&C procedure is a personal choice to be made with the assistance of your doctor or midwife.

A D&C may be recommended for women who miscarry later than 10-12 weeks, have had any complications, or have medical conditions in which emergency care could be needed.



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