Navigating Post-Abortion Recovery

For those who have recently had an abortion, it can be a long and confusing recovery process. As your body adjusts, you may experience some uncomfortable physical symptoms and changes in hormone levels. You may also have a range of thoughts and feelings to sort through following an abortion. Here are some tips for navigating challenges that are common during the post-abortion recovery process.

After an abortion, most women will experience bleeding or spotting, cramping similar to a menstrual cycle, and painful or swollen breasts. While these physical symptoms [1] are common following an abortion, they can be uncomfortable. There are a few things you can do to lessen the physical discomfort experienced after an abortion. To help ease the pain of cramping, you can apply heat to your stomach or back. Massaging can also be a great pain reliever that will help you pass the uterine lining as well.

As your body recuperates [2], it will be important to regularly monitor your temperature. A rise in temperature could indicate an infection. If your physical symptoms do not dissipate within a few weeks, or if you notice a rise in your temperature, this could be a sign of something more serious. Make sure to follow up with your doctor regularly and make note of any physical concerns you experience during the recovery process. 

Emotional Recovery After Abortion

Aside from physical symptoms, abortion may also be accompanied by a wide range of thoughts and feelings. While every situation is unique, there are several emotions [3] that are common among women post-abortion. Some women experience relief immediately following an abortion. However, this sense of relief may disappear and be replaced by sadness. For others, sadness appears right away. Many women also report the following: 

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anger outbursts
  • Avoiding and withdrawing
  • Depression

Some women try to ignore these feelings as they cope with the experience of abortion. This leads to a delay in the grieving process, which is a crucial part of the post-abortion recovery process. Remember, it is normal to grieve after a loss, and grieving after an abortion is necessary for emotional healing. 

Grief can be confusing because abortion is portrayed as a safe and uncomplicated procedure. Because of this, you may be unprepared for your emotional response following an abortion. Understanding the stages of grief can help you navigate your reactions and feelings during the recovery process. The stages of grief [4] include: 

  • Denial – This stage helps you survive the loss by numbing the emotional pain of abortion. Denial helps you cope until you are strong enough to face the feelings, but over time these feelings will surface.  
  • Anger – Once denial subsides, you may feel anger as you begin to work through the loss. Your anger may be directed at your friends, family, medical professionals, or even yourself. 
  • Bargaining – During this stage, you may desire to turn back time and make a different decision. For other women, this stage includes trying to atone for the loss by becoming pregnant again. 
  • Depression – When your attention becomes focused on the present, grief enters at a deeper level. During the grieving process, depression is not a sign of mental illness. Rather, it is an appropriate response to loss. 
  • Acceptance – This stage is about coming to terms with the reality of the abortion. This doesn’t mean that you feel like everything is “all right” again, it simply means that you are willing to live in a new post-abortion reality. 

These stages are not linear, and you may find yourself cycling back through these stages throughout your journey toward recovery. During the recovery process, it is important to remember that you are not alone. At Pregnancy Care Clinic, we are here to help you walk through your post-abortion recovery [5]. To learn more about the services available to you, give us a call at 619-442-4357.

[1] Gotter, A. (2016, August 29). After abortion care. Retrieved February 14, 2019 from https://www.healthline.com/health/after-abortion

[2] Villines, Z. (2018, July 20). After abortion care: Self-care and recovery. Retrieved February 14, 2019 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322533.php

[3] Johnson, T. M. (2018, October 8). Understanding abortion grief and the recovery process. Retrieved February 14, 2019 from https://psychcentral.com/lib/understanding-abortion-grief-and-the-recovery-process/

[4] Kessler, D. (n.d.). The five stages of grief. Retrieved February 14, 2019 from https://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/

[5] Pregnancy Care Clinic El Cajon and San Diego. (2019, January 31). After abortion healing [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDf-b_3n_is