How to Care for Yourself After an Abortion

How to Care for Yourself After an Abortion
Dmitriy Bronfman OB-GYN (Obstetrician-Gynecologist) Brooklyn, New York

Dmitriy Bronfman, MD is a practicing OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist) in Brooklyn, NY. Dr. Bronfman graduated from Mount Sinai School of Medicine of New York University in 1998 and has been in practice for 19 years. He completed a residency at Brooklyn Hospital Center. Dr. Bronfman also specializes in Obstetrics and... more

Abortion is a medical way of stopping a pregnancy. A pregnancy can be stopped clinically or by using an abortion pill. Both of these methods are considered safe, which one is used mostly depends on the patient's individual situation as well as the stage of the pregnancy. The abortion pill is used during the early stages of pregnancy and is known to work up to a maximum of 10 weeks. Prior to taking the abortion pill, your doctor will give you a pill called mifepristone, which is used to block the body's hormone called progesterone.

The second pill is usually taken several hours later and it causes cramping, similar to a heavy period. This pill is known as misoprostol. The process is very similar to a miscarriage. This abortion pill is very effective and it works best during the early stages of the pregnancy. Women should decide together with their doctor whether the abortion pill is the best way to go. Some women prefer this method, as there is no procedure and in some cases, the pills can even be taken from the comfort of one's home. It is not as invasive as a clinical procedure and to some women, it feels more natural. In-clinic abortions are procedures that are done at a health center.

In-Clinic Abortions

There are different types of in-clinic abortion options. The most commonly used method is the suction abortion, which uses a suction to empty the uterus. D&E, or dilation and evacuation, is another procedure used to end a pregnancy. This procedure uses both suction as well as medical tools to empty the uterus. This method is usually used during the later stages of pregnancy. In-clinic abortions are almost always effective and in very rare cases, the procedure needs to be done again.

Your doctor will advise you on which method is best and how soon you can get an abortion after noticing that you're pregnant. How late on you can get an abortion, depends on the laws of the place you live in. In most states, an abortion is not done past 12 weeks of pregnancy. After this period, it is not only considered illegal but also unsafe for the woman to get an abortion.

Symptoms After an Abortion

After an abortion, women may experience symptoms that can take a few days to disappear. Some women notice bleeding and spotting, that can last up to a maximum of six weeks after an abortion. This is a symptom that can occur regardless of whether the abortion was in-clinic or with an abortion pill. Passing blood clots during this time is also very common and most women complain of cramping, similar to the ones during a heavy period.

The body needs around four to eight weeks to recover. Some women also experience great changes in their mood swing and general emotional state. There is a big change that occurs during pregnancy and again after an abortion. In combination with the general stress an abortion puts on a woman, mood swings and feeling emotionally different can also occur very commonly and a woman should be prepared for it.

Post-Abortion Care

It is important to give yourself and your body proper time to heal after an abortion, in the best case, as much time as you feel necessary. Right after an abortion, women still experience the symptoms mentioned above and generally don’t feel well. The cramping can be very extreme and therefore a woman after an abortion should best be accompanied by someone.

Any physical activity should be avoided and the woman should rest for the remainder of the day. During this time, women are at a very high risk of getting an infection and should therefore not use tampons, but sanitary pads. Having sex or putting anything in the vagina should be avoided for one to two weeks. It is also recommended to not take baths, but showers and avoid swimming.

Easing the Discomfort

Women may also experience severe back pain after an abortion. It is therefore beneficial to get a back massage or massage your stomach to ease the cramping. Heat therapy is also recommended for both back and abdomen. Your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics, as well as painkillers. Over-the-counter painkillers in some cases may even be enough. After an abortion, it is important to pay attention to your temperature. If you notice that you have a fever, it's best to visit your doctor as this is a common sign of an infection.

Some other warning signs might be feeling dizzy or even fainting. Some women have extremely heavy bleeding and if a woman is changing more than one maxi pad within an hour, she should have the doctor check it out.

Mental State

Emotional distress is also common right after an abortion, and it is important to care for your mental health as well. Women who don't allow themselves to feel a certain way after an abortion and avoid having any feelings on what's happening at all are known to have difficulties processing the abortion later on.

If you notice that even after a certain amount of time, you are still emotionally affected by the abortion, you should talk to someone about it and even best, visit a psychologist. There are certain therapies that can help you process what's happened together with the help of a professional. Not talking about how you feel will usually only end up prolonging your healing time.

Wrap-Up

There are women who don't feel any symptoms at all after an abortion. So, it can happen, that everything you have been preparing for doesn't come up at all. But, even in these cases it is important to visit the doctor one or two weeks after having the abortion. This is important to make sure that the abortion was successful and that the uterus has healed properly. Usually, you will get an appointment after the abortion at the initiative of the doctor.

If you're feeling unusual and feel the need to seek medical help before the date of the appointment, you should do so as some symptoms might be indicators of an allergic reaction that needs to be treated as soon as possible.