Caring For Yourself After an Abortion
Everyone responds differently after an abortion. No matter how you feel physically or emotionally, you will need to look after yourself.
How am I supposed to feel emotionally after an abortion?
- There is no right way to feel after an abortion.
- You may have strong feelings or you may not feel very much.
- You may feel a sense of relief, a sense of loss, sadness, anger, or guilt.
- You may feel many different things at once, or be confused about how you feel.
What can I do if I need help deal with my feelings?
- It may help to share these feelings and get support from someone close to you.
- Post-abortion counselling is available for free at Planned Parenthood Toronto’s Health Services (416-961-0113), at the Bay Centre for Birth Control (416-351-3700), or at Choice in Health Clinic (1-866-565-9300).
- Call Project Exhale at 1-886-4 EXHALE to talk to a counsellor about however you are feeling.
When can I get back to normal activity?
- Some women return to work or school the same day as their abortion, others may need to rest for a day or so.
- Avoid heavy lifting or aerobic activity for 24 hours after a surgical abortion.
- If you had a medical abortion, avoid heavy lifting or aerobic activity for 24 hours after you release the pregnancy tissue.
- Listen to your body. Return to normal activities when you feel ready.
When will my pregnancy symptoms go away?
- Symptoms should go away in a week or so.
- Feeling sick to your stomach (nausea) is usually the first symptom that will stop as your hormone levels change.
When will my period return?
- Your next period should start about 4-6 weeks after the abortion.
- If you start using hormonal birth control like the pill, the patch, the ring or injection your period may come at a different time.
Is it normal to feel cramps? When will they stop?
- Cramping after an abortion is normal, but not everyone will have them.
- You may feel some pressure in your lower belly or pain in your lower back or inner thighs.
- You may have cramps on the third or fourth day after the abortion and for up to 2 – 3 weeks.
- A hot water bottle may help with cramps. If your health care provider says it’s okay, you can take ibuprofren (like Advil) or acetaminophen (like Tylenol).
Is bleeding after an abortion normal?
- Yes. Some people bleed from their vagina after an abortion and others do not.
- Bleeding may continue for up to 2 – 3 weeks.
- You may also pass bloody clots or clumps or have a bit of brown spotting.
- The flow of blood may increase 3-4 days after the abortion as your hormone levels adjust.
- You may pass blood clots 3-4 days after the abortion when you get up in the morning, sit on the toilet, or when you perform a strenuous activity.
Useful tip: Drinking alcohol, lifting heavy objects, using marijuana (weed), or medicines like Midol, Ponstan or Anaprox may increase your bleeding after an abortion. If you soak through several maxi pads in one hour, or soak through one maxi pad per hour for more than 3 hours, call your health care provider or clinic right away.
How can I prevent an infection?
- Your cervix will remain slightly open for some time after an abortion and anything you insert into your vagina could cause an infection.
- For 2 weeks after a surgical abortion or 2 weeks after the pregnancy tissue has been released during a medical abortion you should avoid:
- vaginal sex, including with sex toys
- using tampons (use pads instead)
- swimming in pools
- using hot tubs or jacuzzis
How can I tell if I have an infection?
- You might have a fever, tenderness in your lower back or belly, or discharge from your vagina. If you have any of these symptoms, call your health care provider or clinic.
How are infections treated?
- Infections that are found early can be treated easily and effectively with antibiotics.
My breasts have become painful and swollen? What can I do?
- You may find that your breasts become painful and swollen and have a watery discharge from the nipples for a few days after an abortion.
- Do not press, massage or rub your breasts.
- Try wearing a tight sports bra or putting ice packs on your breasts for 10-20 minutes a few times a day.
Do I need to see a health care provider again?
- Yes, it is important to have a check up 3 weeks after your surgical abortion.
- If you have had a medical abortion, see a health care provider 3 weeks after the pregnancy tissue has been released.
- Your check up can take place at the clinic where you had the abortion, with your family doctor, at Planned Parenthood Toronto’s Health Services or at the Bay Centre for Birth Control (416-351-3700).