Overcoming Depression After Abortion | Testimony
How to Deal With Abortion
Fortunately, and despite popular belief, most people who undergo a legal abortion of an unwanted pregnancy in the first trimester show resilience and do not suffer significant long-term psychological consequences.You can deal healthfully with an abortion by making an informed decision, preparing yourself for the procedure, coping with the process, dealing with the aftereffects, and practicing forgiveness.
Making the Choice
Analyze the choices that you have.In order to make an informed decision you first need to think about the different options you have. Know that people who chose an abortion versus another type of option, fare about the same in general in terms of psychological outcome.
- Write down or think about your options. For example, you can choose to: parent, put the child up for adoption (open or closed), sign over guardianship to a family member or someone close to you, or you can terminate your pregnancy. Weigh your situation with these options.
- Write down the pros and cons of each, including practical issues and your own emotions.
Consider your personal beliefs and emotions.Some people cannot stand the idea of abortion, some are ambivalent, and others believe it is a human right. You may be anywhere along the spectrum. It is also important to consider your own feelings towards being a parent. Your thoughts and feelings are important.
- Do you have strong religious views about abortion?
- How do you feel about other people who have abortions?
- Do you feel ready to be a parent?
- If you keep the pregnancy, would you want to be able to see the baby?
- Would you be okay with people knowing, and potentially judging you, if you aborted the pregnancy?
Consider practical issues.Envision different futures for yourself: one in which you keep the pregnancy and the baby, one in which you carry the pregnancy and then put the baby up for adoption, one in which you terminate the pregnancy, et cetera.
- Can you afford to have a child?
- What would be your future, and your family's future, if you had a child?
- Are you willing to tell a parent or go before a judge if your state requires it?
- Can you psychologically handle an abortion? Could you handle it with extra support?
- Can you psychologically handle being pregnant?
Talk to someone whom you trust.Support will help you weigh your options and prepare for whatever choice you want.Support helps you feel more confident in your ability to deal with the situation.Whether it’s a parent, a friend, a mentor, a clergy member, or a counselor, you need someone to be able to turn to for comfort and support.
- Get support from your partner, if you have one.
- Get support from parents if possible.
- You do not need to people who aren’t supportive. Individuals who try to get support from people who are not supportive have more psychological distress.(If you are 18 or over, you are not obligated to tell anyone.)
- Find support elsewhere if you do not get it from your partner or parents. Try talking to friends or siblings.
Speak with a medical doctor.If you found out you are pregnant by using an at-home pregnancy test, you may want to confirm you are pregnant by seeing a doctor. If you haven’t decided on whether or not you want to terminate the pregnancy, you can learn more information to help you make your decision.
- Ask a lot of questions at your initial appointment.
- Every Planned Parenthood has staff members trained to discuss your concerns.
Understand the effects of the decision.People who have an easier time making the decision, who are content with the choice, and who terminate unwanted pregnancies, show an easier time dealing with the abortion process.
- Take time to think about it. A hasty decision may be one you regret.Take time to weigh the options and settle on what you think is best.
Be aware of your risk factors.Abortion is a largely safe procedure, with only about 1% of people experiencing complications.Most people do not experience significant psychological consequences following an abortion, but a few do. The risk of psychological harm increases when there are other stressors or mental health issues that exist.
- Know your mental health history. If you have a history of emotional problems, you may have a harder time dealing with an unwanted pregnancy or abortion.
- Identify other stressors in your life. If you have low financial ability, you may have a more difficult time dealing with the effects of an abortion.
- Understand your support network. If you have experienced domestic or partner violence, or do not have an adequate support system, you also may have a more difficult time.
- Personality characteristics can also influence the psychological outcome of an abortion. Individuals who do not have healthy ways of coping may experience more distress.
Preparing for an Abortion
Research different clinics.If you have decided to terminate the pregnancy, you will want to find out where you want the procedure to be performed.
- You can ask for a referral from your medical doctor.
- Search for providers on Planned Parenthood’s website.
Be informed.Make sure that you are fully informed of everything that will happen.
- Call ahead or speak to a staff member or doctor about what to expect.
- Find out about the cost, some services can be low-cost or free, while others can be pricey depending on where you choose to go.
- Understand abortion laws in your state.
- Find out about the different types of abortion and which one will be best for you.
- If you ask the doctor, she will give you a summary before the procedure and walk you through it while it is happening.
Know possible side effects.Planned Parenthood has information about what to expect during and after each type of abortion.Also look up complications, so that you know what to do in the rare chance that these occur.
- You may experience light to moderate bleeding, similar to a menstrual period. However, if bleeding continues for a long period of time you should seek medical assistance.
- You may experience cramping, which should not last more than a day.
- Be sure to know the emergency 24 hour number on the rare chance that something were to go wrong.
Understand your emotional process.The distress from an abortion tends to be greatest before the abortion takes place.There is no "wrong" way to feel. Some people feel negative emotions like sadness, anger, and guilt. These may be mild or intense. Other people have an easier time, and feel no more strongly than they would towards any medical procedure.You may be nervous or scared, and this is okay.
- Confide in a trusted person (someone who is a good listener) and explain your feelings.
- Talk to others who have been in a similar situation.
- Look online for support groups or forums to discuss your concerns. Make sure they are pro-choice forums.
Prepare materials for after the procedure.You may want to take it easy after the abortion, so prepare for a relaxing day or two at the house.
- Make sure you have plenty of maxi pads for bleeding after the procedure. (Your doctor may recommend pads instead of tampons.)
- Get your chores done, like laundry and grocery shopping. If you experience cramps, you might want to take it easy.
- Get some books, movies, and other relaxing activity materials together. Try scheduling time with loved ones to watch movies.
Get someone to escort you to an abortion clinic if possible.This person can provide emotional support. If you are going to be sedated during the process (i.e. given medication to relax you), then you will need someone to help you get home safely.
Coping with the Process
Relax.Being able to use relaxation skills is a large part of positive coping. It helps keep you calm and reduces any anxiety or nervousness you might have about the process.
- Before the procedure starts, begin focusing on your breath, taking deep inhales and exhales.
Talk to like-minded people.Discussing your thoughts and feelings with others who have endured a similar situation can help ease your anxiety not only about the procedure, but about your decision to terminate the pregnancy. Getting support during the process and help you feel like you're not going through it alone.
Avoid harmful coping mechanisms.Avoid using substances such as alcohol or drugs as a way to cope. This may help in the short-term, but if you are dealing with difficult emotions (depression, grief, loss), substances may only prolong and exacerbate your emotional pain in the long-run.
- Try exercise, journaling, talking to a therapist, talking to a friend, creating art, or anything else that may help you process or deal with negative emotions.
- Make an appointment with a doctor or therapist if you are feeling too overwhelmed, or if you fear that you will turn to harmful coping mechanisms.
Dealing with the Aftereffects
Listen to all post instructions.The clinic should give you specific instructions on what to do once the procedure is over.
- Take medication as directed. If you want to, take advantage of the pain killers made available to you.
- Instructions may include to use pads instead of tampons during the bleeding process.
- Do not sit in water, douche, or place medicines in your vagina afterwards. (You may shower whenever you wish.)
- Many doctors recommend you do not insert anything into your vagina or have vaginal sex for one week after the procedure.
- You may need to rest after the procedure.
Place your after-care instructions somewhere where you can easily access them.Your doctor will give you information about how to take care of yourself, along with a phone number to call for any questions or concerns.
Consider scheduling a follow-up appointment.Your doctor might ask to schedule a follow-up appointment in 2 to 4 weeks.
Rest for the remainder of the day.For an aspiration procedure, you can usually return to regular activities the next day. Recovery after a dilation and evacuation procedure may take longer.
Take a few days to yourself if you need them.It is important to take time to heal both physically and emotionally from the stress of terminating a pregnancy.
- For example, spend at least an evening watching comedies, eating ice cream, and listening to your favorite music.
- Don’t take on anything new that is stressful if you can avoid it.
- Try doing something creative, such as painting, making music, or writing. Some people find it helpful to feel productive; choose a task that is relaxing and enjoyable.
Handling Negative Emotions
Aftereffects can be different for different people, depending on the circumstances of their pregnancy and their personal views on abortion.
Make a plan for your healing journey if you are feeling grief or other difficult emotions.For some people, an abortion is a significant life event, and coping can be hard.
- Identify any rituals, traditions, or ceremonies you wish to engage in.
- Know your triggers and how to deal with triggers if they should arise. For example, if seeing other pregnant people is a trigger for thinking negatively about the abortion, then identify a positive way of coping with this situation. For example, you could take a deep breath and say to yourself, “Everyone has a choice. Others may choose to carry their pregnancies to term. I may someday want to do the same.”
Pay attention to your emotions.If you feel loss, acknowledge it. Feelings of regret, sadness, or guilt may occur after an abortion.Avoiding these negative feelings is not a positive way of coping.
- If this is a loss of self, try making a list of the things you like and the things that make you unique.
- If it's a loss of the pregnancy, work on communicating with the entity that you feel loss for.
- Some people find it helpful to do remembrance activities.
- Recognize that no feeling is too small. Take every single one into account. It is not always necessary to feel only happiness about having a baby, nor only sadness about an abortion.
Acknowledge resentment or blame.It may be common to place blame upon people that you feel were partly responsible for you becoming pregnant or leading you to make the decision that you did.
- Use visualization and guided imagery. Close your eyes and imagine a big spotlight in the middle of a forest clearing. One by one, call these people into the spotlight and confront them about how you feel. If you hurt, if you are grateful, if you feel betrayed, tell them that. If you are hurt or upset, tell them that you want the piece back that they took from you. Feel that piece filling a part of you, then thank them and let them go.
Keep a journal.It may be helpful for you to track your feelings as time progresses and may help you gain perspective on how you were feeling and why you made the choice you did.
- Write down your thoughts about terminating the pregnancy. Do you have fears or worries?
- Write down your feelings about the abortion and how you can cope with them.
Get interpersonal support.Support is crucial to every stage of the process of terminating a pregnancy. Many abortion centers also offer offer post-abortion counseling, or can refer you to a good counselor.
- Visit for support and the Exhale hotline.
- If you feel no regret, you can visit www.imnotsorry.net.
- If you are having troubles, there is a wonderful community of girls going through the same thing that can help you, enlighten you, and guide you on the path of healing in a truly nonjudgmental and loving way at www.passboards.org
- If you need someone to, whether your feelings are good or bad, rely on these resources, as they are non-judgmental and supportive: 1-866-4-EXHALE or www.yourbackline.org.
Forgive.Forgiveness is important in moving on and having peace. Forgive others and yourself, whether this be with your deity, your partner, or your family. Forgiveness might not be easy, but it's not impossible.
- Seek forgiveness from others if you think that will help you.
- Remind yourself that you can forgive yourself because you are only human.
- Know that you can forgive your family because they probably feel like they were helping you make the wisest decision.
- Forgive the person who provided the sperm, if you can.
QuestionHow do I move on with my life after abortion? I feel guilty.Top AnswererDepending on your personal beliefs, it may feel like you lost a human life, and it's okay to be sad and to struggle. Your feelings aren't wrong. You were in a difficult position, and you did the best you could at the time. You didn't consent to staying pregnant, and you have the right not to consent, even if that meant the fetus doesn't make it. Look at the ways your life is better now. What can you enjoy that you couldn't otherwise? How can you give back to the world? If you feel like you did something wrong, try "making up for it" by finding ways to make the world a better place, such as volunteering to help children who are already born. With time, you will be okay.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if the person who got me pregnant denies all of this?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerForgiveness does not require an apology from the guilty party. Choosing to forgive is something only you can decide, so if you're upset with the person who got you pregnant for their behavior and attitudes about the abortion, then it's up to you to decide to forgive them.Thanks!
QuestionIs there anything I can drink at home to abort the baby?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. And even if there were, such a substance would likely be unsafe to consume without a doctor's supervision. If you need an abortion, make an appointment at Planned Parenthood. Usually you do not need a parent's permission or the consent of the father, if that's what you're worried about.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I forgive my partner for the abortion? We want to continue to be together, but I have to forgive first.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTime can help. It's okay to be sad after an abortion, this is common. Your partner is probably going through a tough time as well. Just be there for each other.Thanks!
QuestionHow does a community treat an individual who had an abortion?Top AnswererIt depends on the community. Some are going to be extremely supportive due to awareness and those advocating for women's reproductive rights. Some, however, are heavily religious and will be much harsher. They will tell the woman she is a whore, a harlot, and will tell her she is doomed to a life in hell.Thanks!
QuestionIs it possible that I can die if I take abortion pills?Top AnswererThe abortion pill is very safe. While all medical procedures do have risks, the abortion pill isn't especially risky. Take it as directed, and be prepared for some unpleasant side effects like cramping, bleeding, nausea, tiredness, etc. Planned Parenthood can offer more accurate, fact-based information on what the abortion pill entails.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I forgive myself after an abortion?Top AnswererTry and focus on the reasons why you made this choice. It is your life, your body, and it is perfectly acceptable to decide for yourself. It's not easy, but it's your right. Even though you know why you chose an abortion, and the end result is positive, it wasn't an absolute positive. But the negatives did not outweigh the positives, so there's that at least. Give yourself time.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I calm my mom down after I've told her I had sex?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTell her that you will protect yourself, and if you get pregnant, then you hope for a healthy baby and that you will be a wonderful mom.Thanks!
QuestionCan I get pregnant the first time I have unprotected sex?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you can, which is why it's important to always use protection.Thanks!
QuestionWill I die if I have an abortion?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWhile there are always risks with medical procedures like abortions, your odds of experiencing any serious complications -- including death -- are slim (assuming you have the procedure done at a reputable clinic). You don't need to worry.Thanks!
When can I start exercising after having an abortion?
- Avoid crisis pregnancy centers that claim to offer "pre or post abortion counseling." These individuals may attempt to dissuade you from terminating your pregnancy.
- Be wary if you chose to search online for abortion information. Many sites, such as www.prochoice.com, are deceptive pro-life sites designed to discourage people from abortion through manipulation and dishonesty. Advertisements in town that say things like "Pregnant and scared" are usually from the same people.
Sources and Citations
- after an abortion
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