Dealing with an abortion
The decision to terminate a pregnancy is never easy, and can often give rise to mixed emotions. So how do you deal with the prospect of having an abortion?
How will I feel after I have an abortion?
No one can predict how you're going to feel after an abortion. While the majority of women say they feel relieved after terminating a pregnancy, it's also possible you might feel sad, guilty or confused. These are very common feelings - not because abortion is wrong, but because having an abortion can sometimes be a difficult decision to make.
However you're feeling, the most important thing to remember is that you don't have to go through this alone. Abortion is a common procedure in the UK, where one in three women will have an abortion by the time they're 45. Thousands of women have experienced the same emotions you're feeling. If you're down, there are places you can go for help.
Preparing for an abortion
How you feel about the abortion before you have it, the circumstances of your pregnancy and of your choice to have a termination have all been shown to affect the way you'll feel after an abortion.
In other words, if you're sure you're making the right decision for you and feel supported and cared for, you're likely to feel the same way afterwards.
If you feel guilty or confused about your decision, these feelings may continue afterwards as well. There is no evidence that abortion itself can cause depression, but if you've had depression before, you may be more vulnerable to feeling depressed after an abortion.
If you're trying to make a decision about whether to have an abortion, it can be useful to talk things through with someone you trust. You can also get free pre-abortion counselling from an organisation like BPAS or Brook. Speaking to a specially trained counsellor can be useful because they're not directly involved in your situation.
Speaking to your mates, an adult you trust or to your boyfriend/partner can help you feel you have people looking after you, so this is really important.
After an abortion
For many women who've had an abortion, the key is to keep on talking to all those people who've helped you this far. Don't be embarrassed that you're turning to them again, or worry they'll think you've made the wrong decision because you feel this way. They'll want to help.
However, you may feel happier talking to someone outside the situation. If you want to talk in confidence to a post-abortion counsellor, call Brook on 0808 802 1234. They can be of help at any stage, no matter how long ago you had the abortion.
If you're feeling upset after an abortion, this is likely to be only temporary. But occasionally, such feelings can last longer, or perhaps get stronger if they were there beforehand anyway. If you think you're starting to feel depressed, you may need to seek help from your doctor or from a counsellor to help you deal with these feelings.
Some women take longer than others to get over terminating a pregnancy, whether it's two months, two years or much longer. No matter how you feel, you need to give yourself time and space to make sense of your emotions and deal with them in a way that's right for you.
Thanks to Education for Choice for helping with this article.