Life is a series of choices. Some of the biggest choices you’ll make revolve around your body and what you do with it, specifically regarding reproduction. Although they’re not discussed often except in politics, abortions are incredibly common. In the United States, nearly one in four pregnant people will undergo an abortion by the age of 45.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Are the Different Types of Support You Can Receive After an Abortion?
- Where You Can Find Emotional and Physical Support After an Abortion
Despite being so common, most people are left high and dry after the experience. They might feel empowered and clear, but other emotions like grief, shame, anxiety, and depression can sneak in. After an abortion, you’re healing physically and emotionally, and you deserve all the support you can get. You’re not alone. Some people are ready and willing to help give you support after an abortion.
What Are the Different Types of Support You Can Receive After an Abortion?
People get abortions for different reasons, and you don’t have to justify your choice to anyone. You may have gotten one because you weren’t ready. After all, it wasn’t with the right partner, for medical reasons, or another personal reason. Abortions are everywhere, and everyone has their own unique story.
Many people don’t realize that abortion is a type of pregnancy loss. It’s not uncommon to experience grief after an abortion. What’s one of the most essential tools for navigating grief? Having a solid support system.
After an abortion, your body is healing physically and dealing with hormonal changes. You also might be navigating painful or confusing emotions. Physical and emotional support can come from so many different places, like your personal relationships, service providers, and other people who have had an abortion.
Where You Can Find Emotional and Physical Support After an Abortion
It can be hard to know how to ask for help, even when needed. You deserve all the support that you need and want right now. You might be in a tough spot, but finding the right support system will make it much easier to get through.
Here are some great places to find emotional and physical support after an abortion:
1. Your loved ones
Sometimes you don’t have to look that far to find the support you need. If there are people in your life whom you feel held, seen, and supported, they might be the best people to turn to first. They understand who you are, where you’re coming from, and what you need without you having to ask for help (sometimes) explicitly.
Loved ones might include your partner, parents, friends, cousins, or anyone else you trust. Your loved ones can offer support through kind words, cuddles, laughs, freshly baked cookies, advice, or whatever else you might need.
That being said, not everyone in your life is capable of giving you the support you need and deserve. If you feel like the people closest to you will judge or criticize you, or you don’t want to tell them what’s happening, that’s ok. I’m sorry, and you do deserve to have people in your life that you can fully trust with your heart.
Even the best friends and family might not be able to give you everything you need regarding support. Sometimes it’s incredibly helpful to have someone who can give you an objective view or has a different skill set besides knowing and loving you.
2. A full spectrum doula
If you’ve heard of doulas, you probably associate them with pregnancy and birth, but that’s not all that doulas do. When it comes down to it, a doula is someone who provides non-medical support for people through life’s biggest transitions. That usually means pregnancy and birth, but it can also mean death, grief, and pregnancy loss.
Some doulas specialize in abortion support, and many cities have programs dedicated to providing people with abortion doulas. Most commonly, though, you’ll find what’s called a full-spectrum doula. These doulas provide emotional, educational, and at times physical support for people through any outcome of pregnancy and birth – including loss.
Full-spectrum and abortion doulas can often provide support during the abortion at some clinics and home if you have a medical abortion (taking a series of pills instead of surgery).
How does a doula help during and after an abortion?
- Provide you with education about your choices and what’s going on with your body
- Help ease any discomfort you might be feeling through heat packs, gentle massage, etc.
- Ensure your basic needs are cared for, like being hydrated and fed.
- Help you process emotionally.
- Refer you to specialists when need be.
Here are some places you can find an abortion or full-spectrum doula:
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3. A Mental health provider
Although your loved ones and doulas are capable of providing emotional support, sometimes you need a specialist who can give an objective opinion and practical tools. Many mental health providers, like therapists and psychologists, specialize in grief and reproductive health. These providers are your best bet when looking for support after an abortion.
Mental health providers are trained to help watch for signs of mental health disorders like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, and anxiety, which can pop up after an abortion. Still, you don’t have to have a mental health disorder to benefit from seeing a therapist.
Mental health providers can also be great for getting practical advice, healthy coping tools, and giving you a place to vent. They can also help you navigate tricky issues, like if you or your partner has resentment after an abortion or if the pregnancy was wanted, but you had to abort for a medical or personal reason. If your abortion affects your relationship, you may even want to see a couple’s therapist.
Wondering where to find the right mental health provider for you? Psychology Today is a great international resource for finding a therapist that fits your particular needs and even takes your insurance if that applies to you.
4. Support groups
You're not the only person going through what you're going through. Remember how common abortions are? Sometimes the best kind of support comes from talking with people who have been or are currently in your shoes.
Every abortion story is different, but you still may have a lot in common with other people who have had one (or more). Pregnancy loss support groups give you a place to ask questions, get advice, vent, and bond with other people who have experienced pregnancy loss or abortion.
Seeking out a support group helps you to feel less alone and can give you a platform to share from. One of the best healing tools is simply sharing your story and hearing others'. Storytelling and sharing what's on your mind and heart helps diffuse shame, grief, anger, and anything else that's swimming inside you.
Where do you find support groups? Some are in person, but you can find plenty online as well. This may be on social media, online forums, or a quick look on a search engine.
5. Holistic health practitioners
It’s easy to forget that your body just underwent a considerable experience. Even when it’s ended early, pregnancy causes hormonal and physiological changes. This can throw off your mood, menstrual cycle, energy levels, and many other things.
If you feel like you need help recovering physically, it can be helpful to seek out a holistic health practitioner. Someone who can help you heal physically and emotionally through different modalities.
Wondering who to reach out to? Here are some holistic health practitioners who may be able to help you after an abortion:
- Herbalists: They use the power of plants to help heal all sorts of things including hormonal regulation and mood fluctuations, which can both happen after an abortion.
- Acupuncturists: They specialize in a modality of Traditional Chineses Medicine called acupuncture. These providers can help with overall balance and address similar issues as herbalists.
- Naturopathic Doctors: Another holistic provider who can address any imbalances and treat them with natural remedies and lifestyle changes.
- Body Workers and Massage Therapists: We often carry grief and other emotions in our bodies. Bodyworkers can help give you the loving touch you need for many of these emotions to ease and melt away.
A holistic health practitioner may not be enough if you’re experiencing long-term side effects that are causing significant issues. You might also want to contact your OB/GYN or a reproductive health specialist.
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As cliche as it might sound, the answer is often inside you. We can search for and wide, outsourcing our intuition, but at the end of the day, you know yourself best. You’re the only person who knows exactly what you’re going through and what your mind, body, and soul need. You can give yourself things that others can’t simply because they haven’t truly walked in your shoes.
Still, supporting yourself can sound easier said than done. So how do you do it?
- Take time to meditate, pray, or just find quiet time.
- Do something you love or are passionate about.
- Spend time in nature.
- Journal, you can start with prompts like “I feel most at peace when ___” and “Right now my heart feels ____”.
- Simply rest. Whether that’s taking a nap, reading, lounging in the sun, or binge-watching T.V.
Just because you can support yourself doesn’t mean you should go at it alone. It’s still vital to seek support from loved ones and professionals as you see fit.
Finding Support After an Abortion
We hope this helped you get some insight into just how many options you have regarding finding support after an abortion. If you’re unsure whether someone is the right person to turn to, trust your gut, and read reviews for professional services!
Whether it’s from your loved ones, a professional, support group, or yourself, you can and will get the support you need. You probably won’t get everything from just one source, so be sure to seek out different kinds of support. Abortions are a tricky but very real part of life and something you shouldn’t have to navigate alone.
- “Abortion Is a Common Experience for U.S. Women, Despite Dramatic Declines in Rates”. News Release, Guttmacher Institute. 19 October 2017. Guttmacher.org