What is Abortion?
Abortion is a medical procedure that is done to terminate a pregnancy. It involves removing the fetus and placenta from the uterus. It is a very important procedure for those who are pregnant and do not want to continue a pregnancy. An analysis shows that about 1 in 4 females will have an abortion in their reproductive years.(1) There are 2 main methods involved in abortion:
- Surgical Abortion: This involves a surgical procedure to remove the fetus and placenta from the uterus.
- Medical Abortion: This involves giving medication that induces miscarriage.
Both of these are safe and effective ways to end a pregnancy. However, they can be crucial for individuals with health risks or other pregnancy complications.
How to Care For Yourself Post Abortion?
It is important to keep self-care as a priority in case of abortion as the procedure can be hard on physical and emotional health. Taking care of self is very important for the person, before as well as after the abortion. The self-care involves:
- Taking off from work
- Seeking emotional help from friends, family, and healthcare professional
- Follow-up with a healthcare provider for aftercare
- Prioritizing physical health by resting, staying hydrated, and avoiding strenuous activities
- It is important to prioritize self-care for people who are planning to or have undergone abortion for a healthy life ahead.
Importance of Seeking Support During Recovery Period Post Abortion
There are several reasons why seeking support during the recovery period is important:
- The procedure can affect a person mentally and physically. There can be a range of emotions that a person may experience including sadness, guilt, and even anxiety. Seeking help from family and friends can help cope with these feelings.
- Seeking support can help address any physical and mental issues that may arise after abortion. Even though abortion is a safe procedure there are some risks and potential complications linked to it. A healthcare professional should be consulted if someone experiences heavy bleeding, fever, or severe pain to ensure health and well-being.
- There is social and cultural stigma around abortion. It is still a controversial and politically charged procedure and a person undergoing it may undergo judgment and criticism.
- Seeking help post-abortion can help a person recover emotionally and physically.
Physical Recovery After Abortion
Recovery after abortion may depend on the method used for abortion and the overall health of an individual.
Immediately after the procedure, the cramping may be experienced by the individual followed by bleeding and other discomforts. There may be mild symptoms. The doctor may prescribe over-the-counter pain medication or prescription medication. It is important to follow the instructions given by the doctor for pain management.
The individual is instructed to avoid heavy lifting, physical activity, or exercise post-procedure. Rest and light activities are encouraged to promote healing and reduce the risk of complications.
There may be bleeding and spotting for 2 weeks after the procedure, which may gradually decrease over time. It would be better to use sanitary napkins and change them frequently to reduce the risk of infection, the use of swimming pools should be avoided, and nothing should be put in the vagina.(2)
Several days may take for physical recovery. A person can try the following:(3)
- Massage stomach and lower back
- Attend follow-up appointments
- Use a heat pack
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers
- In case of fever or chills and a doctor should be consulted as it may indicate infection.
Attending follow-up appointments with the doctor is important after an abortion. These may involve a physical exam or blood test to ensure the success of the procedure and prevent the risk of complications.
Emotional Recovery After Abortion
Abortion can be a difficult decision as it may also lead to mental turmoil. Emotional recovery after abortion may occur gradually. It is important to take time to process feeling and seek support if needed.
The hormonal shift may be responsible for the changes in the mood post-procedure. The progesterone and estrogen levels gradually decrease and cause low mood. A study shows a link between abortion and higher rates of depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.(4)
A few tips that may be useful for emotional recovery post-abortion are:
- Giving yourself time. There are different emotions that a person goes through after an abortion. These may be sadness, guilt, or regret. Some of the emotions may be due to the hormones induced for abortion. The best way is to give yourself time to grieve and let out all the emotions. Completely feel these emotions and get free from them.
- It is good to seek support from friends, family, and healthcare professionals. Speaking with them can prove to be helpful. They can provide emotional support and help work out the feelings.
- Practice self-care. Taking care of the body emotionally and physically help largely in coming out of the emotional low. This involves taking rest, eating healthy, and engaging in activity that brings joy.
- Find support groups with people who have undergone abortions. Connecting with people with similar experiences is helpful. Meeting them and discussing their experiences can enhance knowledge of what others are experiencing and how to deal if the same happens.
- Seek professional help. Anyone struggling with emotions after an abortion, consider speaking with a healthcare professional for additional support and guidance.
Emotional recovery post-abortion may take time. It is important to be patient and not push yourself through anything. Give yourself time, it will be slow-paced but you will surely recover.
Self-Care Tips Post Abortion
Self-care is essential post-abortion as it helps recover mentally and physically. Below are mentioned a few self-care tips a person can consider after an abortion.
- Give rest to your body. As abortion leads to wear and tear in the body, it is important to give the body a good amount of rest. Avoiding strenuous activities is a must. Listen to your body and take it easy.
- Keep your body hydrated. Drink plenty of water to help the body recover and stay healthy. Make sure to complete a target of drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water every day.
- Eat nourishing foods. Focus on eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. They provide the body with essential nutrients and energy and speed up recovery.
- Take pain medications on time The doctor may provide pain medication to help ease pain and manage discomfort. Follow the instructions and take the medications as prescribed.
- Do not be hard on yourself. Avoid strenuous activities or any stress that could be harsh on the body. Avoid anything that may cause discomfort.
- Seek emotional support. Seeking emotional support may help in healing faster. This helps in processing feelings and emotions. Consider joining a support group.
- It is always good to prioritize your emotional and physical health for overall well-being.
Follow-up Care Post Abortion
Follow-up care is important to ensure a smooth recovery.
Make sure to schedule a follow-up appointment with a healthcare provider to ensure proper healing. Any concerns should be discussed during the appointment. For a week or two, the doctor may ask a person to abstain from sexual activity to allow the body to heal. Also, using tampons should be avoided post abortion to reduce the risk of infection. Keep a note of the symptoms including heavy bleeding, cramping, or fever. Consult a healthcare provider if any unusual symptom is experienced.
If not planning to get pregnant choose a contraceptive method that is right for you. You can take help from your healthcare provider to get to know more about the options.
Be kind to yourself and seek support if needed.
Abortion can be a straightforward procedure for many people as they may not have any complications. However, it may be worrisome for a few.
People may get affected emotionally and physically due to the change in hormone levels. If these issues are addressed on time, they can be short-termed. Reaching out to friends and family can help in coming out of the emotional turmoil. A healthcare professional can be consulted as he can provide solutions for these changes.
How everyone feels after an abortion may be different. It is important to listen to the body and seek medical and emotional support as needed.
There is also a hope for increased access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare and support services in the future to make informed decisions about reproductive health. The adolescents can also have access to get informed about reproductive health. This might be helpful in reducing the chances of unwanted pregnancy in younger age groups. This can also be helpful in reducing the maternal mortality rate.
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