Abortion is an exceedingly common procedure that many women feel the need to undergo at some point in their lives. Women feel lonely and afraid when considering, during, and after the process of having an abortion – just when they need support the most.
What to Expect After an Abortion:
Your body will go through some normal changes:
- within 24-48 hours: nausea, vomiting and breast tenderness lessen; nipples may leak fluid.
- within 1-2 weeks: pregnancy symptoms (fatigue, bloating, and mood changes) lessen
- within 4-6 weeks: you should have a normal period.
- Bleeding, passing blood clots and cramping are all normal after an abortion.
- may be light or none for the first 3 days after an abortion
- may become heavier on the 4th or 5th day with clots, dark bleeding, and cramping
- can range from none at all to like a heavy menstrual period
- light bleeding or spotting may last 2-4 weeks after an abortion
- may increase with physical activity
- happen because the inside of the uterus is thicker
- may be large (the size of a loonie) for the first few days
- happens because the uterus is returning to its usual size
- lessens if you rest and apply a hot water bottle or heating pad
- take ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain
- do not take ASA (Aspirin) for pain; it may increase bleeding
Basic Recovery Tips:
- Drink lots of fluids
- Stay off work for a few days if you can. Allow yourself to sleep 12 hours a night if that is what your body is asking for. You’re not lazy – you’re healing.
- Take vitamins, eat healthy food, and try to sleep
- Take the antibiotics prescribed by your doctor right away, and for the full amount of days prescribed! Because of the medication used during a surgical abortion, for the next 24 hours do not drive a vehicle or do anything which requires you to be alert.
- No exercise for two weeks. Going for a walk, doing gentle yoga or Pilates may help as soon as you feel you have the energy for it. Avoid doing inversions in yoga or anything that feels like a strain. No swimming or tub baths for 2 weeks
- Don’t lift anything over 15 pounds for two weeks, don’t use ANYTHING vaginally for 2-4 weeks – no sex, no tampons, no douches.
- You can ovulate as soon as two weeks after an abortion, which means yes, you could get pregnant again within two weeks after an abortion! Try to prevent sexually transmitted infections. Always use a condom when you have sex.
- After the 2-4 weeks is over, you should NOT have sex again unless you feel physically recovered, and have discussed with your partner what you want to do if an unplanned pregnancy occurs again. Do NOT let yourself be pressured into having sex again before you are physically and emotionally ready, and have had a serious discussion about the course of action for future unplanned pregnancies. You can get pregnant as soon as two weeks after an abortion! Your body normally will go back to it’s regular cycle, and release an egg (ovulation) at 2 weeks post-abortion. So once you decide you are ready to resume sexual intercourse again, make sure you are using birth control right away. As many of us know, birth control is NOT 100% effective. So it’s very important that you don’t have sex again until you are healed physically and emotionally, and you have a clear consensus on what will happen if you become unexpectedly pregnant again.
- For women who had an abortion for maternal health reasons, or for a poor prenatal diagnosis, consult your doctor about birth control and future pregnancies.
- If you were 9 or more weeks along in the pregnancy, it is possible that you may have trouble with milk, or a milky fluid leaking from your breasts after the abortion. The further along you were, the higher the chance of having your ‘milk come in’. This can be upsetting, but it won’t last for long. It’s a normal effect of the hormones that your body releases when you are no longer pregnant. These hormones make your body start to produce milk, whenever a pregnancy is ended. Your breasts may feel sore, tight, swollen, and will leak out droplets of clear to whitish fluid. At times the milk may ‘let down’, and a substantial amount of liquid may come out. To help with this stage, wear a well-fitting/snug bra, and try avoid stimulation of your breasts or nipples. Wear the bra 24 hours a day until your milk dries up. It can take one to four weeks for the milk to dry up. It will not be as painful as it originally feels when the milk first comes in – as the milk is not ‘used’ the pressure on the milk ducts will cause the milk to ‘dry up’. Keep wearing that snug-fitting bra, and take tylenol for the soreness, and this will subside. If you develop a fever, or extreme tenderness in either of your breasts, consult a doctor – there is also a condition where your milk glands can get infected, and this will need to be treated with antibiotics. (This is a rare complication).
- For the next couple of days, do not drink alcohol– it can increase the bleeding and delay your recovery.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention if:
- You are bleeding enough to soak a maxi-pad every ˝ hour for 2 hours
- Your bleeding has a bad smell
- You have severe belly pain
- You have a fever or feel unwell
- You have vaginal discharge after the bleeding stops