What is a Surgical Abortion?
Surgical abortion is a procedure where the pregnancy tissue is removed from the womb (uterus) of the mother and this procedure is usually completed in 10 to 15 minutes under general anesthesia.(1)
Types of Surgical Abortion
There are 2 types of surgical abortions:
- Dilation and Evacuation (D & E) Abortion: In this procedure surgical and suction instruments are used to empty the pregnancy contents from the woman’s uterus. This type of surgical abortion is recommended if there has been 16 weeks or more since the last menstrual period.
- Suction Abortion (Vacuum Aspiration): In this type of surgical abortion, a gentle suction is employed to remove the pregnancy tissue from the uterus. This type of surgical abortion can be done until about 14 to 16 weeks after the last menstrual period. Vacuum aspiration or suction abortion is the most common form of in-clinic abortion.
What are the After Effects of Surgical Abortion?
After having an abortion, the woman’s body feels and goes through the following:
- Abdominal Pain:(2, 3) Bleeding and cramping occurs after surgical abortion and these cramps are like menstrual cramps and can also be extreme painful for about three weeks after the abortion.
- Anemia:(2) As there is blood loss after surgical abortion, the woman suffers from iron deficiency where there is insufficient iron in the body causing difficulty in functioning. For this reason, it is important to eat iron rich foods after having surgical abortion.
- Heavy Bleeding:(2, 3) As mentioned before, occurrence of heavy bleeding during the first few days is a common side effect after surgical abortion. This blood loss occurs from your uterus.
- Diarrhea and Nausea:(2) Diarrhea and nausea are again two common side effects of surgical abortion and this occurs due to the use of anesthesia when performing this procedure. The release of hormones after the abortion can also cause nausea. Diarrhea can be caused by the use of antibiotics or due to the bacteria which has been introduced into the body when performing the abortion procedure.
Post-Surgical Abortion Diet (4)
After a woman has had an abortion, for whatever reasons it may be, it is always a painful and emotional experience for her. The body works hard to heal itself after going through abortion and the patients needs a diet filled with all the required nutrients to heal. There is loss of blood and re-growth of the womb lining happening after the abortion and there is also requirement for some extra energy, similar, but not same as to what you feel during your period. The woman’s body will also experience effects of pregnancy hormones and needs extra minerals and vitamins to regain energy and to stay healthy.
In this article, we will talk about the types of foods to eat after having a surgical abortion and what foods to avoid. It is important to eat healthy foods after an abortion, as it is not only beneficial for your physical health but also mental health. Eating good meals rich in nutrients increases the energy levels and elevates mood while you are resting and recovering physically as well as mentally. The foods which we need to eat are important when you take into consideration the side effects of abortion. To compensate these side effects, one needs to consume a high quality diet after having had surgical abortion.
Foods to Eat After Surgical Abortion
Iron-Rich and Vitamin C-rich Foods,(4) such as red dates, spinach, liver, pork kidney and pumpkin are extremely beneficial after having had a surgical abortion. These foods are rich in vitamin C and iron and helps in replenishing the loss of blood in the body. The iron rich foods help in replenishing red blood cells, which are responsible for supplying oxygen to the entire body. Other than this, vitamin C and iron helps enhancing the collagen formation, which in turn promotes healing of the wound after the abortion procedure.(5)
Calcium-Rich Foods(4) such as dairy foods, okra, tofu and broccoli are a must have in the post surgical abortion diet. It is important to eat foods that are high in calcium after surgical abortion to restore the calcium stores lost in the short pregnancy time and for better recovery for muscle functioning and bone health.(6)
Healthy Fats,(4) such as sesame oil, salmon and threadfin, which are rich in healthy fats, encourage faster recovery thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties in them.(7, 8)
There are more benefits of healthy fats than meets the eye. After surgical abortion there can occur hormonal imbalances and consuming foods loaded with healthy fats, which are not only anti inflammatory in nature, but also provides support for hormonal balance. The omega-3-fatty acids also help in reducing stress and anxiety thus benefiting your mental health as well.(8) Some of the best fruits and snacks to eat after abortion are also excellent sources of healthy fats such as almonds, avocados, olive and walnuts.
Folate-Rich Foods,(4) such as Kailan, Red Beans, Chayote and Black Beans help in preventing anemia by production of healthy red blood cells. Folate-rich food is important for post surgical abortion diet to maintain healthy growth and function of the cells.
Protein-Rich Foods,(4) such as lentils, fish and chicken are an important part of the post surgical abortion diet. Protein are responsible for manufacturing the building blocks of the organs and tissues in the body(9) and thus it is important that you eat foods rich in protein during your recovery process to help with wound healing after surgical abortion. It is common knowledge that protein helps in increasing muscle strength and muscle mass along with being an excellent source of vitamin B12,(10) which is vital for production of healthy red blood cells. Protein also helps the body in developing antibodies, which in turn results in a good immune system.
Whole Grains, such as barley millet rice, quinoa and brown rice helps with digestion after abortion and also helps in maintaining good gut health and immunity thanks to the amount of fibre they contain. Not only this, whole grains also help in promoting better hormonal balance by regulating the levels of blood sugar(11) and this indirectly helps in boosting the recovery process after a surgical abortion.
Fresh and Dried Fruits, such as oranges, apples, berries, walnuts, almonds are full of antioxidants and vitamins which help the body fight against infection. Fruits are also a great source of dietary fiber,(12, 13) which helps in preventing digestive problems.
What Foods to Avoid After Surgical Abortion?
The below mentioned foods must be absolutely avoided at any cost after you have had a surgical abortion.
Junk Foods, such as processed foods, fried foods and sugary drinks are big no-no as these foods will delay your healing process and make your physical as well as mental health worse. Junk foods do not have any healthy or beneficial nutrients in them(14) and they are also difficult to digest. So, it is best to stay away from them for healthy recovery after surgical abortion.
Soy products contain phytate which hinders with iron absorption.(15) After having an abortion, your diet should contain iron rich foods to combat anemia occurring as a result of loss of blood. Along with consuming foods rich in iron, one must also avid foods which contain soy in them, as it has phytate in it which prevents the absorption of iron and causes more problems.
Coffee and Alcohol should be abstained from after having abortion, as they are diuretic in nature and cause dehydration(16, 17, 18) in the body which in turn worsens the cramping and other pain that you experience after a surgical abortion.
Abortion is a safe and legal medical procedure and every woman of any race, background and ethnicity should have the right to it. Having an abortion is taxing on the physical and mental health. There are side effects of abortion, such as anemia, abdominal pain and bleeding; and to combat this, the patient has to take a diet which is full of nutrients and other things that help in better healing and recovery process. Post surgical abortion diet should be filled with foods that are rich in protein and iron to ward off iron deficiency and help wound and tissue repair. Consumption of healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acid found in tuna and salmon and; iron-rich foods such as beans and lentils; protein found in chicken and red meat are the foods to be consumed after surgical abortion. With proper rest and good diet, one can recover in a fast and healthy manner after having surgical abortion.