How to Recover Emotionally After Abortion

When it comes to talking about abortion, there’s no such thing as an “easy” decision. The rhetoric you hear on the news, at home, or in school is all about women’s right to choose, conception vs. heartbeats, and The Supreme Court, but nobody seems to be talking about the practical matter of what to do after you’ve already had an abortion. At TheHopeLine, we understand that if you’ve recently undergone a procedure to terminate pregnancy, you didn’t make that choice lightly. We’re here to listen to your story without judgment and connect you with resources that can support you in recovery after abortion, because no matter the politics, you deserve to heal your mind, body and soul.

Helping Your Mind Recover From an Abortion

During your recovery period after abortion, you may feel a wide range of emotions like relief, grief, regret, anger, loneliness and more–and you may feel them all at once! No matter your circumstances, abortion is a significant life event, and anything that big takes a serious mental toll. On top of that, the chemical balance in your brain is impacted by the hormonal shifts you’ve gone through can lead to depression, so it’s key to take care of your mental health at this time. We recommend finding healthy ways to care for your mind, such as:

  • Counseling or therapy to help you process your situation in a healthy way. A good counselor will be able to hold space for you, listen to your story, and help guide you in your mental health journey.
  • Journaling to help you make sense of everything you’re feeling. Feeling relief? Write about why. Feeling Sad? Write about why. Feeling angry? Write about why. Feeling grief? You guessed it… write about why.
  • Consulting a physician about prolonged feelings of depression or anxiety. You may need medication or other health care to move forward in your abortion recovery process.
  • Protect yourself from having to make this decision again. Talk to your doctor about different forms of birth control that could be right for you or use protection when you choose to have sex in the future. Keep in mind that birth control isn’t 100% effective and abstinence is a totally acceptable choice.

Whatever you’re feeling post-abortion, it’s valid! Just like your body, your mind has gone through a lot and needs rest and recovery. Do what you can to pour into your mental health for a while.

Helping Your Body Recover From an Abortion

Whether you took pills to medically induce your abortion or went into a clinic for a surgical procedure, you are probably experiencing some physical side effects. Here’s some info about what your body might go through in the next few days and how to take care of yourself:

  • Bleeding is the main side effect of either method. It could begin immediately or may not show up for a few days. It could look like spotting or be as heavy as a period. You may even notice small blood clots, tissue, and other discharge. It could last anywhere from 2-6 weeks after your abortion. You can use sanitary pads, tampons, or menstrual cups to your comfort level. If you’re concerned that you’re bleeding too much, call your doctor.
  • Another main side effect will be cramping as your uterus begins to shrink down to its pre-pregnancy size. This could just be annoying or may feel like heavy period pain, but either way, it’s important you take correct doses of ibuprofen, avoiding aspirin as it could cause more bleeding. You can also use a hot water bottle or a heating pad to soothe cramps or try massaging your abdomen for 10 minutes.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are also common side effects, whether it’s coming from the hormonal changes your body is experiencing or the antibiotics your doctor might have prescribed to prevent infection. Make sure to keep your body hydrated with water and tea if you're nauseated and follow instructions about taking medicines with/without food. If you’re concerned that your nausea is getting out of hand, call your doctor.
  • It’s common to feel fatigued in the days and weeks after the procedure–your body has been through a lot! One day you were pregnant, and the next you weren’t, which means lots of hormonal changes are happening, in addition to the emotional toll an abortion decision and process can take. Make sure to prioritize rest for the next several weeks. 
  • See your doctor if: You’re experiencing prolonged heavy bleeding such as bleeding through two maxi pads per hour for two hours in a row OR one pad per hour for three hours in a row, passing blood clots larger than the size of a lemon, experiencing severe abdominal pain that doesn’t feel like cramping, running a fever of 100.4 or higher, or noticing a particularly smelly discharge. Any of these things could be a sign of infection or other complications, which are rare but important to catch quickly.

Women report a wide range of experiences with abortion side effects. The important thing to remember is to take it slow, listen to your body, and don’t push yourself too hard or wait to ask questions about what you’re feeling. Now, take a deep breath, put your feet up, and ask your body what it needs.

Helping Your Soul Recover From an Abortion

This is the part where we tell you that self-care is crucial to abortion healing. It’s true! While it won’t be as simple as lighting a candle and drawing up a bubble bath, self-care after an abortion is about getting centered and connecting with what makes you you. Your body and mind are important tools that make your life possible, but there wouldn’t be much life to live without you, your soul, your unique self. These are, of course, always great ideas for any time in life, but here are some ways to tend to your soul’s wellbeing after abortion:

  • Lean on your support network. Think of the people you love, who love you, and may even be the reason you wake up in the morning. Don’t keep this experience from them. Tell your story because keeping it bottled up is not healthy. If you feel safe, share what you’re going through and ask for their help.
  • Join a support group of people who have personally experienced abortion. Saveone.org has safe and non-judgmental groups across the country. Find a location near you SaveOne.org.
  • Lean on your faith. Even if you feel as if your decision to have an abortion goes against your faith. Even if you feel guilt and shame because of your convictions. If you are having regrets, remember that God forgives. He is a God of mercy and grace. He sent His son Jesus to take on our sins so that all who believe in Him are forgiven. God still loves you. If you are feeling the need for forgiveness, pray to God and ask Him to forgive you. As you search for peace as you process the gravity of abortion, spend time in prayer and scriptures that remind you of how Christ sees you.
  • Create something or find an activity that brings you joy. Using your mind and body to bring something new into the world can be healing, so pay attention as you move throughout your day. If anything grabs your attention or inspires you, find a way to show gratitude or turn it into art.

Where to Find Help After Abortion

If you are struggling with any part of the post-abortion process, there is help available to you! We’ve gathered some resources here for you, but you can also chat with one of our Hope Coaches.

  • You can call H3lpline 24/7 at (866) 721-7881.
  • StandUpGirl recommends several other support options, including an abortion support chat.
  • Explore the resources available on TheHopeLine's website.

Remember: YOU ARE NOT ALONE! We want to help you, as do those who love you and so many organizations dedicated to helping you heal after this big decision. If you’re not sure where to start, or you want to hear more about that peace, love, joy, and understanding we mentioned earlier, please reach out to TheHopeLine today. We’re here to show you there’s always hope!

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