DURING & AFTER THE ABORTION
I took the pills…so now what?
The waiting game associated with medical abortion can be tedious and nerve wracking. It is entirely normal to wonder incessantly, “is it working?” Remember, women report that it takes about 3-6 hours after taking misoprostol to start to feel cramping, bleeding, and other sure signs that the abortion has started.
Normally, the worst of the cramping and most of the abortion should be complete 24-48 hours after taking the misoprostol. In the weeks following, it is completely normal to continue bleeding (like the last days of your period). Some women report that this bleeding will stop for some days, and then start again for a few days before completing.
Pay attention to your blood! You are your own best midwife to know what is normal for you, and what is not. What is the consistency throughout the abortion? Is it bright red? Chunky? Dark blood? Brown blood? You can have a better idea of what is going on in your body by the type of your blood. When the blood is bright red–it’s mean it’s flowing easily. At the start of your abortion, it’s normal for this blood to be interspersed with dark red/ black matter or the products of conception as they release from your body.
If blood starts coming dark brown early on, or stops completely, this could be a sign of an infection or complication or that more misoprostol is needed to complete the procedure.
Every woman is different in this regard, and it’s important to monitor your bleeding against two factors:
1. Your periods and how YOU normally bleed
The way your reproductive system responds to menstruation, birth, menopause and abortion is all similar to your body. You can sense when something is “off”. This sense is especially important in terms of your abortion. Follow your intuition with this, and pay attention to your blood. Some of it will look a bit different, and you may have the sense that this is the fetus.
2. The medical information on safe abortion included here, from your doctor or midwife, on other safe abortion websites, etc
If you are having signs of infection, or extensive bleeding in the weeks following your abortion, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Complications from abortion by pills is quite rare when the proper regimes are followed. Many, many women are worried that their abortion is not normal, and that something is wrong. This fear is normal! It is important to listen to your body and seek medical help if the warning signs are there. Many women also do NOT seek medical help, hoping the problem will “go away”.
The most common risk is infection. Many women suffer from infections—namely yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Both are relatively normal and are harmless if cured at the onset. Left uncleared, they can ravage one’s reproductive system.
In the meantime, we recommend:
- Manage pain and discomfort: heating pads and ibprufen
- Meditation: listen to this guided meditation on emptying the womb
- Yoga for cramps: Take our curated abortion yoga course here
- Write: write down all of your feelings. This is a potent time. Even five minutes of words will be illuminating to read for the future you
- Do something mindless: This is also a great time to binge watch series, or do whatever relaxing tasks you would do when you can indulge in this way.
- Have your stash from your Abortion Bedside Guide handy so you have all of your comforts at an arms length
DANGER SIGNS: WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
It is entirely normal to bleed a lot during your medication abortion. The question is, what kind of bleeding is NOT normal? The abortion should be complete around 48 hours after taking the misoprostol, but period like bleeding may persist for up to two weeks after your abortion. Some women experience spotting after some days of not bleeding. Every body is different, it is just important to watch out for the warning signs:
- Heavy bleeding (more than 2 pads in 2 hours)- passing large clots (bigger than an orange), this can be a sign of incomplete abortion, and until the products are conception are removed the bleeding can continue
- Fever over 38 Celsius or 100.4 Fahrenheit
- No bleeding accompanied by abdominal bloating (this is in the first 48 hours after taking misoprostol)
- Severe abdominal pain
- Bad smelling discharge—usually this smells like rotting fish. Infections can be cured by a number of different antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin, doxycycline and metronidazole
If you have any of the complications above, please seek medical care immediately.