Guide to Recovering From an Abortion

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Women who have abortions should establish a support system and prioritise self-care in the days following the procedure. While experiences may vary, common post-procedure symptoms include bleeding, spotting, discharge, and discomfort. This article provides guidance on managing these symptoms, but if you encounter severe bleeding, pain, or suspect depression, seek immediate medical assistance.


Understanding Abortion

Abortion refers to the termination of a fetus from the mother's womb and is recognised as a highly sensitive subject requiring professional handling.


Reasons for Abortion

Women choose to undergo abortions for various reasons. Some may feel unprepared for parenthood due to unforeseen circumstances, while others may have medical indications necessitating the procedure. It's crucial to approach the decision to abort thoughtfully and consult with a qualified healthcare provider.


Abortion Considerations and Legal Requirements

The decision to terminate a pregnancy is significant and must involve a knowledgeable doctor who respects your choices and ensures compliance with legal regulations. Abortion laws vary between countries. In the UK, abortions can be performed before 13 or sometimes up to 24 weeks, contingent upon specific circumstances. These may include situations where continuing the pregnancy poses risks to maternal or fetal health, or where there are concerns about the mental well-being of the mother or existing children.


Post-Abortion Expectations

After an abortion, bleeding is common and should be managed with sanitary towels for monitoring. The volume of bleeding varies among individuals, with clotting not always occurring. However, if clot size exceeds that of a lemon, medical attention is warranted.


Misoprostol and Bleeding

Misoprostol, administered prior to abortion, induces uterine contractions typically leading to bleeding within 2-4 hours. However, some may experience delayed bleeding.


Managing Bleeding and Recovery

Following the termination of pregnancy, bleeding should gradually decrease. Spotting until the next menstrual cycle is normal. However, experiencing sharp pain followed by a significant blood release weeks later warrants immediate medical attention.


How Much Bleeding is Too Much After an Abortion?

You should contact your doctor if you soak more than 2 maxi-size sanitary towels per hour, for 2 hours continuously.


Will I Experience Pain When Taking Misoprostol? 

You will experience painful cramps followed by bleeding a few afterwards when taking Misoprostol. This can last for a few hours; the most painful episode will be when the pregnancy is expelled. Every woman has a different experience, but many women will pass the pregnancy 2-4 hours after taking Misoprostol.  It will be helpful for you to get over-the-counter pain medication from your nearest pharmacy before taking Misoprostol.

The pain will reduce noticeably after the pregnancy has been expelled. It is normal to experience light cramping for a week after abortion, this can be treated with Ibuprofen or Paracetamol which is available over-the-counter. 


Physical Symptoms After Abortion

You might experience nausea, vomiting and fatigue after an abortion, but this will normally stop after 3 days. Breast tenderness normally stops 7-10 days after an abortion. You might want to wear a supportive bra and apply cold ice packs to your breasts. 

Some women might experience depression after an abortion. It is important to have a support group during this time and if necessary, make an appointment with a counsellor. 


Signs of Depression After an Abortion

It is important to note that depression is not the product of an abortion procedure but rather the stigma and lack of support during the procedure. Common reasons identified that can lead to depression after an abortion are a history of mental problems, personality traits and features of the pregnancy (if the mother actually planned for the pregnancy).

Depression is defined as a mood disorder. The following symptoms can indicate depression after an abortion:

  • Feeling sad
  • Difficulty focusing and making decisions
  • Feeling irritable
  • Lack of energy
  • Problems sleeping
  • Loss of interest in activities you normally enjoyed
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Low self-esteem

Complications of depression can cause stress in a relationship. Feeling low after an abortion is normal, some women might even feel relieved after an abortion, it all depends on the circumstances the mother finds herself in. 

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