For support persons – after an abortion

After an abortion:

Do read the handout she was given for post-abortion care. This will help you know more about how she needs to take care of herself, what she needs to watch for, and when she might need to seek further medical attention.

She may want support to plan for her time at home to rest and recover. Some women want special food, some sort of entertainment like movies or a good book, painkillers like Ibuprofen, a heating pad and so on. She also may want time alone or to have someone with her – it is always best to ask.

After an abortion a woman’s body changes from being pregnant to not being pregnant again. Pregnancy hormones drop as part of this, which can cause some women’s moods and emotions to go through changes or to seem intensified. This usually lasts no longer than two to three weeks. Some women need extra support or extra space during this time.

If you are her partner and are not doing so already, consider ways in which you can take your share of responsibility for birth control. By doing so, you are showing in a concrete way that you care and that you do not want to take chances with her body or her wellbeing.

Most women do not feel guilty about or regret their decision but it is very natural for them to look back and wonder if they made the best choice. If she is feeling unsure in this way, you can help by reminding her of all the things she considered when she was making the decision and the reasons she had for making the choice she did. Help her to remember that she made the best decision she could under the circumstances. If needed, let her know that she is not a bad person because she had an abortion. Reflect her goodness and the strength in her decision back to her. Let her know that you accept and respect her. Encourage her to have self-compassion and to be gentle with herself.

Although you may want her to move on and feel better, give her time and space to integrate and move on from what has happened. For some women this can take time. Try to allow her to process the experience in whatever way she needs to. If she is experiencing negative feelings that she finds unmanageable, encourage her to see a counselor that specializes in post-abortion care. Ask the clinic for resources and referrals or check our links page. Note: beware of Crisis Pregnancy Centers that claim to specialize in this area, but are actually anti-abortion organizations that may use scare tactics, provide misinformation or encourage rather than help resolve difficult emotions.

If you are the woman’s partner, it is still healthy for you to talk about how you feel regarding the pregnancy and abortion, as long as it is not in a way that makes things more difficult for her. Being willing to talk about a hard or intense situation can make a tremendous difference in both of your experiences and strengthen your relationship. If you feel guilty or sad and she doesn’t, it’s OK for you to tell her how you feel but do not expect her to feel the same way. If you are having a lot of difficult feelings, it may be better for you to talk to a friend or counsellor before you talk to her. If needed, ask the clinic for resources or referrals or see our links page. You can have as many as or more feelings about the abortion than your partner. Your feelings are valid and need to be acknowledged so that you can move forward in your own healing.

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