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HomeHow Do I Recover After Having an Abortion? A Support Guide

How Do I Recover After Having an Abortion? A Support Guide

26 Jun, 2024 | Abortion, Advice, Blog, Counselling

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Having an abortion is a personal decision and it’s normal to have a range of emotions before and after the procedure. This guide will walk you through what to expect during your recovery and the support resources available to help you during this time.

Immediate post-operative period

Your choice between surgical or medical abortion will influence your immediate recovery process.

  • After a surgical abortion: You will be monitored in a recovery area. The healthcare professionals will ensure that you are comfortable and that you have recovered from the anaesthetic before you go home.
  • After a medical abortion: Most people will not feel anything after taking the first tablet, you may have some light bleeding and mild cramps during this time. During the hours following the second tablets there will be pain and bleeding, almost always more than a period. Pain can be very strong for some people

 Download our detailed informational booklets here to better understand what to expect during an abortion.

Physical recovery

  • Rest and self-care: It’s important to rest as much as possible for the day or so after your abortion. Avoid strenuous activities and heavy lifting. Listen to your body and take it easy.
  • Bleeding and cramping: You can expect some bleeding and cramping in the week or two after the procedure. This shouldn’t be worse than a normal period and is a normal part of the healing process. It’s also normal to get no bleeding sometimes.
  • Pain management: Mild pain and cramping can be managed with over-the-counter pain relief medications. However, if the pain becomes severe or if you have any concerns, contact your healthcare provider. If you had your procedure at MSI Australia, you can access our free aftercare hotline during business hours at 1300 888 022 and speak to one of our nurses directly.
  • Signs of complications: While complications are rare, it’s important to be aware of the warning signs. If you experience fever, heavy bleeding, ongoing severe pain or unusual vaginal discharge, seek medical attention immediately.

Emotional wellbeing

  • Emotional responses: It’s completely normal to have a wide range of emotions after an abortion. Some people feel relief, while others may feel sadness, guilt, or a sense of loss. All of these feelings are valid and it’s important to give yourself permission to feel whatever comes up.
  • Counselling and support: Read this blog and understand Why Counselling Can Positively Influence Your Experience of Abortion Care. Professional counsellors provide a safe, non-judgmental space to talk about your feelings and concerns.
  • Support networks: Lean on your support networks during this time. Talking to trusted friends or family members can be incredibly helpful.

Long-term recovery

Follow-up care and contraception choices

  • Medical check-ups: It’s important to attend any follow-up appointments as recommended by your healthcare provider. These check-ups are an opportunity to ensure that you are healing properly and to address any concerns you may have.
  • Contraception after abortion: Your healthcare professional usually will discuss various contraception options with you during your abortion appointment. If your preferred method isn’t immediately available, suitable, or effective, you may need to start with an alternative contraceptive to stay protected until you can switch.

Accessing further support

  • Ongoing counselling services: Ongoing support is crucial for emotional recovery. MSI Australia has professional counselling services that can assist you in processing your experience and discussing future reproductive plans; 1800 Respect is another confidential online and telephone counselling, you call 1800RESPECT or visit their website.
  • Community resources: Many community resources are available for additional support, including support groups, mental health services, and reproductive health organisations. These resources can provide valuable assistance and help you connect with others who may be going through similar experiences.
  • Education and Information: Empowering yourself with information is a key part of your recovery. Accessing educational resources about reproductive health, contraception, and emotional wellbeing can help you make informed decisions about your health. Women’s Health Victoria offers a wealth of educational content in their daily newsletter.

Frequently asked questions

  • Is it normal to feel emotional after an abortion? Yes, it’s completely normal to have a range of emotions after an abortion. Whether you feel relief, sadness, or anything in between, all of your feelings are valid. If you need support, our counselling services are here to help.
  • When can I return to normal activities? Most people can return to normal activities within a few days, but it’s important to listen to your body. Avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for a few days, or until you feel ready.
  • What if I have concerns during my recovery? If you have any concerns during your recovery, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider. It’s better to ask questions and ensure everything is progressing normally.

Read more FAQs here.

Other resources

Here are some support services that may be helpful:

  • MSI Australia. Check what services we provide here.
  • 1800 Respect is a confidential online and telephone counselling, information and referral service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is for those experiencing the impacts of sexual assault, domestic and family violence. Victims of sexual assault, domestic and family violence, as well as their family and friends, can call 1800RESPECT (1800 696 784) or visit their website.
  • Relationships Australia offers services around the country that include counselling, family dispute mediation and a range of family and community support and education programs. You can call them on 1300 364 277 or visit their website.
  • QLife provides Australia-wide anonymous, LGBTI peer support and referral for people wanting to talk about a range of issues including sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships. You can call them on 1800 184 527 or visit their website.
  • Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. You can call them on 13 11 14 or visit their website.
  • Men’s line is a free telephone and online counselling service for men with emotional health and relationship concerns. Their counsellors specialise in family and relationship issues, including relationship breakdown, separation and divorce, parenting, family violence, suicide prevention and emotional well-being. You can call then on 1300 78 99 78 or visit their website.

Deciding to have an abortion can be incredibly stressful and emotionally taxing. It’s important to take time to recover and be kind to yourself during this period, as you’re the one who feels the impact the most, both emotionally and physically. Prioritise self-care and allow yourself the space to heal. Remember, you are not alone, and help is always available.