So you’ve decided that motherhood isn’t the right choice for you. You’re not alone – one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime – for a variety of reasons. If you are less than nine weeks pregnant, chances are your health care provider will prescribe you Mifepristone, or otherwise known as ‘the abortion pill’. Here is a breakdown of how the abortion pill will affect your body, as well as tips on alleviating mental and physical stress.
First things first: find a health care provider. If you are uncomfortable going to your gynecologist, or you do not have one, Planned Parenthood is one of the most straightforward and nonjudgemental places. Most Planned Parenthood clinics can dispense Mifepristone, and if that is not an option, they can refer you to a different clinic or hospital. The healthcare provider will want to make sure you are physically well before the medication abortion. He or she will probably perform a basic physical, including an ultrasound.
You’ll generally receive three medications. The first, which you will take at the clinic, is Mifepristone, a form of Progesterone that causes the uterine lining to break down. The second is Misoprostol, the medication that expels the shed lining. This will be taken about 24-48 hours after you take the abortion pill. Misoprostol will cause heavy bleeding and cramping. Some women abort within a few hours of taking it, others will abort within a day or so. During this time, you may experience a range of symptoms including dizziness, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and mild fever or chills. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Advil) can be taken to alleviate some of these symptoms, but do not take aspirin.
The third medication your health care provider will prescribe is an antibiotic, to eliminate the chance of infection or further complication. You will want to schedule a follow-up appointment two weeks after the medication abortion, to make sure it went as planned and you are no longer pregnant.
Complications with the abortion pill are uncommon, and most are very easily treatable. Call your doctor if you experience extremely heavy bleeding (soaking through two or more maxi-pads in an hour for two or more hours), severe abdominal pain, or a fever higher than 100.4°F 24 hours after the procedure. It is very rare for a woman to need hospitalization if the abortion pill is taken correctly.
So, what will make this process as painless as possible? Behold: anecdotal tips from 12 women in my life who have experienced a medical abortion. They range in age from 19-47, and I have kept their identities anonymous.
“Frequently eating small portions of iron-dense food like spinach, baked potatoes, scrambled eggs, cube steak, almonds, etc. really helped lessen the dizziness and nausea I felt.”
“Take a stocking, fill it with rice and lavender, and microwave it. Place on belly and binge watch your favorite TV show.”
“This one might be obvious, but take the pill on a day where you have no other obligations. Surround yourself with friends who love you and respect your choices. Stay in bed as long as you like.”
“I second the notion of not being alone. You don’t have to do this in secret.”
“Adult diapers and sweatpants. And House of Cards.”
“Not being alone was the most important thing for me. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, and I felt a whole range of emotions the entire day. Having my best friend at my side the entire time made the entire process 100% easier.”
“It felt like the worst period of my entire life. I had copious amounts of Ghirardelli chocolate.”
“I was alone, and it was fine. I didn’t want to be with anyone. It was my personal decision, and I wanted to deal with it in solitude. I did watch The Sopranos though.”
“I had severe hot flashes for the first few hours. Wet washcloths straight out of the freezer were lifesavers.”
“I actually went to the movies right when my bleeding lightened. I went by myself, got the biggest bucket of popcorn I could, and lost myself in Iron Man 3.”
“Allow yourself the capacity to feel every emotion, but also let go of thoughts that might be self-destructive.”
“It really didn’t affect me horribly at all. I was so prepared to be miserable, but it turns out I was terrified of nothing. Having a large supply of maxi pads on hand is essential, though.”
In the end, your experience will not exactly mirror anyone else’s. But knowing yourself, staying strong with your convictions, and being compassionate with yourself are key elements to getting through an abortion. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the resources below if you have any doubts or concerns surrounding the medication abortion. In the end, the choice is yours, and you have every right to own that decision.
Provides a helpful workbook which asks questions, provides answers, and explores pregnancy options in a non-judgmental and safe way. Provides open ended questions to help you get in touch with what you want, and resources to take care of yourself no matter what your choice is. Provides information about pregnancy, parenting, adoption, development, and pre-natal care; as well as answers on abortion, aftercare, birth control, and supportive resources.
Provides “high-quality, nonjudgemental, confidential health care” for women, with a focus on sexual and reproductive health. Largest US provider of reproductive care services, including birth control, emergency contraception, and abortion. Free resources on these topics and more are available on site and in person at locations around the country.
Planned Parenthood National Hotline
Available 24/7. Counseling for STDs, pregnancy, and other sexual health issues.
Provides tons of resources for pregnancy, parenting, abortion, and adoption options in their “Need Help?” section. Also available at 1-888–493-0092.
Exhale After-Abortion Support
Premiere resource for emotional health and wellbeing after abortion. Provides and promotes emotional support, story sharing, and resources both online and offline. Free talk line also available at 1-866-4EXHALE (439–4253).
National Council for Adoption
Answers questions and provides extensive support and resources throughout the adoption process. Also available 24/7 at 1-866-21-ADOPT (23678) or [email protected].