Abortions can look and feel vastly different from person-to-person and within an individual termination experience. The reasons someone may need or choose an abortion are varied, but no matter the circumstance or situation, everyone deserves physical and emotional care before, during, and after their abortion. If you're looking for ways to support yourself through an abortion experience or want to care for a friend or loved one, this guide to self-care for abortion offers ideas and tools for self (and community) care around a termination.
You may choose to be as private or as public with your abortion as feels right. No matter what you decide, having community to support you through and after the procedure can be helpful. Maybe a friend, partner, or doula can accompany you to the clinic or be with you at home. You might ask folks to bring you food or pay for and order delivery meals or groceries. You could ask someone close to you to check-in with a text or phone call. An online support group or social media community like Shout Your Abortion could offer resources and connection with folks who've had similar experiences. And no matter what your immediate community looks like, you are not alone. Abortion is normal, in the US, according to data from 2014, about 1 in 4 people with a uterus will get an abortion before the age of 45.
Your physical body may need some extra care in the days following your abortion. Follow the specific directions from your provider, as they should be tailored to your body and specific abortion procedure. Generally, however, you can gather any supplies that you need to take care of your body while you bleeds, including any menstrual garments or products that you use. You can plan to support your sleep and rest, doing what you can to make sure your body gets the sleep it needs to recover and heal. This might include setting up a comfy spot to rest or sleep, getting an eye mask or earplugs, and gathering any other sleep aids that support your rest. Food is another thing that helps your body heal. Eat for nourishment, pleasure, joy, comfort. Warming foods like bone or veggie broth and dishes seasoned with tumeric, ginger, or pepper can be especially comforting and healing for the body after an abortion procedure. Take any medications or supplements that your care provider suggests or prescribes, as well as anything you usually take for your functioning and well-being (as long as you know that there aren't any contraindications; if you're not sure, check with your care provider). As best you can, prepare to care for your body like you're sick or are recovering from a minor surgery—think comfort, rest, nourishment.
This piece of self-care can be done immediately surrounding your abortion or years after the fact. An abortion does not have to be a significant life event. Your abortion(s) might register in your body and mind as just another physical experience and nothing remarkable. The experience could also feel big, intense, life-altering. Or maybe like "no big deal" one day and then "THE BIGGEST DEAL" the next. There's no right way to understand, describe, or feel about your experience. The meaning making is up to you. You could journal about the experience, make art, share your story with someone else. It might help to talk with a therapist or other support person as you're discovering and creating what your abortion(s) mean to you. Meditation, ritual, and any spiritual or religious practices that bring you comfort can also be helpful ways to reflect on and process your experience.
Self- and community-care around an abortion experience will look different for each person. Perhaps the biggest thing you can do to care for yourself is hear and know that you deserve support and love. No matter your reason(s) for getting an abortion, no matter how many terminations you've had, no matter how you feel about the process and experience, you deserve ease and care. If you want more support and aren't sure who to talk to, consider reaching out to a full-spectrum doula who offers abortion support. Here's to you—and the reproductive care you need, want, and deserve!
Beth Rich is a queer educator and full-spectrum cycle doula who works at the thresholds and intersections of menstruation, family-building, pregnancy, birth, loss, and other life transitions. They're a non-binary human who's excited to talk about bodies, periods, birth, and sex in language that holds space for all of us. Discover more of their work at thebethrich.com or on Instagram @thebethrich.
Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash