Abortion: Post-abortion recovery
Abortion (Pregnancy termination) is a significant event in any woman’s life. Providing proper care post-procedure is essential for your full recovery. Pregnancy termination itself is usually a straightforward procedure with minimal risks to a woman’s physical health and well-being.
You, your health professionals, and the people who love and care for you need to understand what you have gone through to help you recover most effectively.
You may not feel like sharing the information with anyone, and that is understandable; abortion is an intensely personal and private affair.
However, it is also important that you have support from people who have your best interests in mind.
Pregnancy termination can affect your physical health, your mental health, and your emotional well-being.
General physical well-being is usually straightforward to understand; you know when you are unwell with pain or fever for example.
It can be more difficult to have insight into your own emotional and mental well-being so it’s a good idea to check in with a healthcare professional for a review and spend time with those who make you feel better.
Your choice of contraception for prevention of future unplanned pregnancies is an important factor which must not be neglected.
Your choice of surgical or medical termination will also
influence your physical recovery.
Recovery After a Surgical Termination
In the immediate post-operative period after surgical termination of a pregnancy, you will be cared for by a registered nurse who is experienced in caring for women who have undergone this procedure.
You will be observed closely until you are fully awake and feel well enough to dress yourself and go home.
In the days and weeks that follow, it is important that you treat your body kindly: eat well, rest well, and avoid abusing your body in any way. Be gentle with yourself; don’t expect too much.
Physical exercise and training can start soon, usually a few days after the procedure, but don’t expect too much too quickly. 30 minutes of low-grade exercise daily is always recommended.
Some light or intermittent bleeding can be expected for 2-3 weeks after a surgical termination.
It is not unusual to feel sad or upset about having undertaken a surgical termination of pregnancy, but you mustn’t be hard on yourself. Try to remember the reasons why you have decided that having a child at this stage of your life is not a good idea. Forgive yourself.
Maximise your recovery by thinking of the future and making sure that you stay healthy and that you are using effective contraception.
Treat yourself to something small and achievable that makes you happy every day. Expression is useful, so writing a diary, drawing a picture, singing in a choir – all these things that help you express your emotions are helpful.
We would always recommend a 2-week check which can be undertaken by a local doctor or by staff at Clinic 66 to ensure that you have made a full physical and emotional recovery and that you have chosen a reliable and effective contraceptive that you are happy with.
If you were not ready at the time of pregnancy termination to choose a contraceptive, the review visit is your opportunity to make an informed decision so that you don’t find yourself facing another unplanned pregnancy.
If you have been recently pregnant, it is likely that you will become pregnant again unless you prevent it.
Provided that you have not had sex since the termination, we are usually able to insert a Long Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC) at the 2-week post termination check.
Care After a Medical Termination
Medical termination of pregnancy can be a somewhat drawn-out process; it can take some weeks to be completed.
After the first step of the medical termination, women often don’t feel anything, although some women do start to bleed. Others start to feel less pregnant. We recommend using a sanitary pad after you have taken the first tablet.
During the hours following the second step of the medical termination (misoprostol tablets) there can be significant pain and bleeding.
After the 8 hours it takes for the misoprostol tablets to be metabolised by the body, there may be some ongoing bleeding, but the worst should be over.
It’s extremely important that you have a review at 2 to 3 weeks after a medical termination to make sure that there are no signs of retained tissue or a continuing pregnancy.
A medical termination of pregnancy is straightforward around 95% of the time. An unsuccessful medical termination could result in you becoming very unwell. It’s absolutely essential that you attend a review with your doctor at Clinic 66 in order to make sure that the medical termination has been completely successful.
The review visit is extremely important to ensure
that the medical termination has been
Physical and Emotional Recovery after an Abortion
Surrounding yourself with people who are supportive, understanding and patient with
you is important.
Physical recovery is usually straightforward. There may be some ongoing discomfort and bleeding but it should not be significant or troublesome. Pain that gets worse or bleeding that is very heavy (more than 2 pads every hour) needs be reviewed immediately by a doctor.
Fever is not normal after surgical termination of pregnancy, although infection is a risk. If you are experiencing symptoms of fever such as chills or hot and cold sweats, or have smelly vaginal discharge, see a doctor immediately. It may be that you need antibiotics.
In terms of emotional well-being, women generally feel better after termination of pregnancy, albeit with a slight feeling of emptiness.
There is often much anxiety and emotion around the decision-making process, and it’s a stressful event for any woman to undertake. Even though you are likely doing this on behalf of several people in your life, you are the one who bears the brunt, emotionally and physically.
It’s important that you give yourself space and time to recover and are not being too hard on yourself.
Post-Abortion Support at Clinic 66
Patients who attend Clinic 66 for termination of pregnancy are welcome to see us at any time and can be seen at short notice.
There is a 24-hour telephone line available, so all you have to do is call a clinic number. We will see patients post-termination at short notice and for any reason.