It may be helpful to know that more than one-third of all women in North America will have an abortion in their lifetime. While it is one of the most common medical procedures, it can be hard to talk about.
You will probably have feelings after your partner has an abortion, and your feelings may be different from hers.
It is important to take care of yourself physically and mentally.
If you are looking for ways to support your partner, ask her what she needs. You don’t need to have all the answers.
Never underestimate the power of simply listening.
You can acknowledge any feelings your partner is having, without trying to “fix” them or brush them aside.
If you are an intimate partner, be affectionate if she welcomes it, but be prepared for her to not want to be sexual.
There are lots of great ways to offer your partner practical and emotional help, including transportation to and from appointments, providing childcare, providing or preparing food, or simply making sure she has the things that comfort her during a stressful/difficult time. Doing something special for her can help you both feel better.
Try to accept both positive and negative emotions during the experience.
A: You may bleed heavily, moderately, lightly or not at all, for one to three weeks after the abortion.
Some women do not start to bleed until several days after the abortion, some stop bleeding and then start again, some pass clots with strong cramps for several days. It is normal to experience increased cramping or bleeding for up to four or five days after your procedure.
Use Tylenol or Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) for relief of cramping symptoms if needed
Aspirin (ASA) may increase bleeding.
Q: How much bleeding is abnormal?
A: If you have soaked through more than 3 pads in 2-3 hours OR if you notice blood clots larger than the size of a lemon, call the clinic where you had the procedure and inform them.
Q: When can I have sex again?
A: You should avoid sex for 1 week. It’s important to know you can get pregnant almost immediately following an abortion.
Q: How long until my period starts again?
A: Your normal period should begin three to six weeks after the abortion, unless you are on birth control pills, Depo Provera (the shot) or have a Mirena.
Q: Can I use tampons?
A: You should avoid putting anything into your vagina, including tampons, for 1 week following an abortion. Use sanitary towels for 1 to 2 weeks after treatment. Tampons can then be used for your next menstrual period.
Q: Will I still feel pregnancy symptoms after an abortion?
A: Any morning sickness should disappear within two days, and breast changes usually settle by the end of the first week, but both may persist if you are on the birth control pill. It is very unlikely, but you may notice a milky discharge from your breasts after the abortion. Do not express the fluid – it will go away on its own within two weeks.
Q: When should I start using birth control again?
A: You should start using birth control (e.g. Pill, Patch, Ring, Shot, or IUD) or STD protection immediately.
Important Post-Procedure Information
You should feel “back to normal” after about two weeks, but if you have medical concerns contact a health care provider like your family doctor, youth clinic, OPT clinic, or schedule a follow-up appointment at the clinic where you had the procedure.
Don’t smoke cigarettes for 3 hours after the procedure, to avoid feeling faint.
Take antibiotics IF they were given to you.
You must contact the clinic if you have any unexpected hospitalizations within 30 days of the procedure.
Positive support, and the absence of negative judgement from family and friends can be a key factor in how you feel about an abortion.
We have a human need to tell our story when difficult or stressful things happen in our lives, and have the story heard in a caring and understanding way.
It can be hard to confide in others about having an abortion. We may feel it is too private to share, or worry about their reactions. But feeling like your experience is a “secret” can add to a sense of isolation and shame.
Talking about an abortion takes courage, and can make you feel vulnerable. You may want to reach out to many people until you find one who can provide the acceptance and support you need. Only some people will be truly supportive. Deciding who to tell – and who not to tell – is important.
Getting support from the people closest to you can be very affirming and comforting. They may already know what you’re going through, and the person you got pregnant with may have even been involved in the decision. However, some may be unsupportive of the decision, or unable to provide what you need, due to their feelings around pregnancy and abortion.
Even if you don’t feel comfortable talking, it’s good to think of someone you could talk to if needed.
People may surprise you with how supportive they are. Some may even share their own abortion story with you.
If people do react poorly to your story, remember their judgement has more to do with them, and their world, than it does with you.
You may experience difficult emotions in relation to your abortion, like anger, resentment, fear, regret, sadness, grief, guilt or shame. Even though they’re unpleasant, it’s healthiest to acknowledge and accept them for what they are.
You may experience difficult emotions in relation to your abortion, like anger, resentment, fear, regret, sadness, grief, guilt or shame. Even though they’re unpleasant, it’s healthiest to acknowledge and accept them for what they are. Burying or denying emotions can make them last longer, and affect you in negative ways. For example, you may feel agitated and restless, or have difficulty sleeping, but not realize these troubles are caused by your emotions related to your abortion.
You may be fully aware of what’s bothering you, and why. Or, you may be struggling to understand your emotions and what they are doing to you. Understanding your emotions following an abortion, and why you have them, is the first step to accepting them.
Mindfulness and meditation have been shown to alleviate feelings and symptoms of stress- both physical stress (pain) and emotional/ mental stress. By anchoring one’s attention to one’s breath or another tangible sensation, we allow the mind to stay in the present moment, rather than become pulled by the ever-changing winds of one’s thoughts.
Instead of falling into a cycle of anxiety, guilt, and shame; mindfulness practitioners are able to recognize that thoughts are simply that- thoughts. They do not necessarily have a basis in reality. By creating some space between the individual and her thoughts; mindfulness, quite literally, blows for space to breathe and space to feel and process emotions from a place of non-judgement and compassion. (For example- you are not a sad person, you are feeling sad right now and that is a shared human experience.)