How Can I Support My Girlfriend After Her Abortion?

How Can I Support My Girlfriend After Her Abortion?

Making a decision about an unplanned pregnancy isn’t easy. We understand that it took a great deal of soul-searching and fact gathering for your girlfriend and you to choose abortion from a list of options that may have seemed overwhelming.

We realize that the abortion process affects both of you individually, and applaud you for wanting to know what you can do to support your girlfriend or partner in this season. You have a remarkable opportunity to practice empathy as she goes through the post-abortion process, and it’s the perfect time to show how much you care for her by providing practical and emotional support.

In this article, we’ll discuss what your girlfriend might experience after having an abortion, and what you can do to support her.

Provide Practical Support

Whether your girlfriend had a medical abortion or a surgical abortion, it was and will continue to be a shock to her system as her body heals. Cramping, bleeding, and fatigue might cause her not to feel well physically. You can provide practical support in the following ways:

  • Check in with her often by asking how she’s feeling and if she needs anything.
    • Water
    • Food
    • Extra pillows
    • Heating pad
    • Pain medication
    • Offer to run errands
    • Stay with her if she wants the company
    • Offer to take her to follow-up appointments
  • Show her you care by doing something special for her.
    • Buy her favorite flowers
    • Cook her favorite dinner (or take her out if she’s feeling up to it)
    • Bring her favorite books or magazines
    • Watch her favorite movie with her
    • Give her a unique gift
    • Write her an encouraging letter
  • Consider these examples of supportive communication:
    • “Do you want some alone time, or would you like me to stay with you?”
    • “I’m here for you whenever you feel like talking.”
    • “I’m sorry you’re the one physically going through this. What can I do to help?”
    • “What are you feeling? You’ve been through a lot.”
    • “Do you want to talk?”

Provide Emotional Support

Even if your girlfriend or partner felt certain abortion was the right choice, having an abortion can cause a wide range of emotions from relief to regret or sadness. The degree of emotion can vary from day to day and can rise up immediately following an abortion or years later. Recovery will require your emotional support so she’s not left alone to cope.

A major cause for the varied emotional responses after an abortion is the sudden drop in hormones. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) pregnancy hormone levels are at their highest before 17 weeks of pregnancy. When your girlfriend had her abortion, those hCG levels dropped suddenly, which can also cause emotional responses.

Post-Abortion Syndrome

While there is much discussion around Post-Abortion Syndrome Symptoms (PASS), it is understood that abortion is typically associated with stressful circumstances and therefore can potentially have psychological repercussions, according to Psychology Today. In addition, any event that causes trauma can indeed result in PTSD, and abortion is no exception, the article goes on to say. 

Some women report experiencing negative memories (sometimes called “trauma triggers”) of their abortion experience. Trauma triggers can be any sights, sounds, smells, or thoughts that remind your girlfriend of her abortion. If triggers begin to interfere with her quality of life, you may want to suggest professional counseling or attend a support group together. Learn more about the free services Avail NYC offers for those who are healing from a past abortion experience.

Your girlfriend may feel confused about what is happening to her body if she begins to have an array of positive or negative feelings, particularly if she identifies herself as an emotionally strong person. Learn to validate her feelings. Validating them doesn’t mean you agree with them; it means that you are hearing her and acknowledging her experience. Let her know that it’s normal if she feels relieved and sad all at the same time. And if a part of you has any negative feelings, share that with her, too. Assure her that you’re in this together.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, common negative feelings following an abortion experience include:

Anger

Anger is a normal emotion your girlfriend might feel during recovery from her abortion. She can be angry at herself for having to make an abortion decision, the medical community, her religious community, and even you. Take responsibility for your part in the pregnancy. Express that you’re sorry she is the one who has had to physically experience the abortion.

Guilt

Experiencing guilt doesn’t mean you regret your decision, rather it’s a natural response one can feel after making a very difficult decision. Guilt can stem from your girlfriend feeling she bears the entire weight of the decision and its consequences or how she views others in her life might perceive her for making this decision. Regardless of why she is experiencing guilt, acknowledge how she feels and provide encouragement.

Anxiety

An abortion is a significant event, and sometimes women experience anxiety afterward. Your girlfriend may express fear about her future or getting pregnant again. She may encounter difficulty sleeping and concentrating. She may also experience “panic attacks” that include shortness of breath and heart racing. If your girlfriend is suffering from these symptoms, encourage her to contact a mental health care professional.

Regret

It might surprise you if your girlfriend expresses regret after her abortion because you thought you both agreed you were making the best decision for your situation, but regret is also a common emotion for your girlfriend to experience. Your compassion won’t make her regret go away, but it can ease the pain.

Suicidal Thoughts

If your girlfriend makes any comments suggesting she is contemplating suicide, contact a physician or mental health professional immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

It’s also important to understand that you and your girlfriend might not feel any negative emotions at all. You don’t have to regret your decision in order to desire professional support or a place to talk with others who have been in a similar situation. Support is still available to you.

If your girlfriend or you want to talk through any unresolved thoughts or emotions related to a past abortion experience, Avail NYC is here for you. We provide no-cost, one-on-one advocacy and post-abortion support groups led by compassionate and skilled advocates. Make a free, confidential appointment today.

Avail exists to be a safe haven for women and men facing an unexpected pregnancy or seeking support after an abortion. We are not a medical provider.

Abortion Recovery

Abortion Recovery

Abortion recovery isn’t something that is always openly talked about. Still, the need for information is real. How long does it take to recover physically? What about the emotional recovery? What is that like?

Sorting through all the available information can be a challenge, especially if you have recently found out you are pregnant and are trying to decide which path is best for you. If you are considering abortion as an option, it’s best to be prepared for what you will go through from beginning to end, and afterward.

Physical Recovery

While recovering in the first few days, experts advise drinking a lot of fluids, resting, taking vitamins and prescribed antibiotics, eating healthily, getting plenty of sleep, and avoiding aerobic exercise for two weeks. Also, don’t lift anything over 15 pounds, and don’t have sex or use tampons or anything else vaginally for two to four weeks.

One of the most obvious effects following an abortion is bleeding, which lasts for one to two weeks, often includes blood clots, and can include cramping or bloating. If bleeding soaks two or more sanitary pads per hour, contact your doctor immediately.

After an abortion, your body will be working to get back to normal, and that happens faster than you might expect. Ovulation is likely to happen within two to three weeks following the abortion procedure. This means you may want to revisit your contraceptive options.

You should expect your first menstrual cycle to take place in four to eight weeks after an abortion procedure and it’s possible for it to be somewhat abnormal initially.

Emotional Recovery

Emotional recovery from an abortion looks different for everyone. Some women will feel relief, while others report feeling regret or experiencing depression.

These mixed emotions are common, and you are not alone. The medical professionals at Mt. Sinai in New York say, “It is normal to feel sad or depressed after this procedure. Seek help from your health care provider or a counselor if these feelings do not go away. A family member or friend can also provide comfort.”

It’s not uncommon for women to say that the procedure affected them more than they expected. Those who have been coerced, forced, or persuaded to get an abortion may struggle more than those who freely make their decision. If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Ask For Help Before Deciding on Abortion

When faced with an unexpected pregnancy, it’s important to find a trusted person to walk alongside you, answer your questions, and listen as you evaluate your options based on your individual circumstances.

At Avail NYC, our client advocates will help you whether you are still deciding your path, or need emotional support after having an abortion. We are here to provide the services, space, and support you need. Contact Avail NYC or make an appointment.

Avail NYC exists to be a safe haven for women and men facing an unexpected pregnancy or seeking support after an abortion. We are not a medical provider.

After Abortion: How Can A Support Group Help?

After Abortion: How Can A Support Group Help?

While everyone’s experience is different, dealing with mental health issues after an abortion is common for many women. These life-changing issues are a valid concern when considering your options during an unexpected pregnancy. Read on to learn about some of the mental health changes that can be common after undergoing an abortion and why many women have found support groups to be helpful when coping with feelings of grief, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stemming from an abortion.

What Are Some Common Emotions to Experience in the Wake of an Abortion?

The strength and variety of possible emotions women experience after having an abortion can range widely. While some women may report feelings of relief, many others indicate they feel guilt, grief, depression, or shame. In some cases, especially if the actual medical procedure was difficult or damaging, women may develop PTSD and have periodic flashbacks to this traumatic experience.

Because abortion still carries a tremendous social stigma, women who have undergone an abortion may also experience isolation. This is especially common among members of religious groups that tend to strictly prohibit abortion; without the ability to turn to friends and loved ones for support, women may fall into depression and feel they’re unable to share their emotions with anyone around them.

Unfortunately, these mental health conditions can only become worse over time without treatment. Mild cases of grief or guilt may not have a lifetime impact, but depression, anxiety, or PTSD can impact future relationships, career decisions, and other big life choices.

How Can Support Groups Help You Cope?

For women dealing with strong negative emotions after an abortion, or even simply experiencing unresolved feelings, attending an in-person support group or seeking support in an online community can be helpful. These support groups allow women to share their emotions with others who have gone through similar experiences, all without the fear of judgment or attack, receiving support and empathy in the process.

But for many women who are still reeling from their abortion, even taking the first step of reaching out to find a support group can be a challenge. Some may be afraid to be vulnerable about their experience in front of others, while others may assume that a post-abortion support group will be too similar to a twelve-step program.

However, abortion support groups can function much differently from the support groups seen on television or in the movies. By focusing on the individual and their unique experience, these groups can empower women to reclaim their sense of self, often for the first time in a long time.

Whether you’re dealing with unresolved feelings after an abortion or you’re facing an unexpected pregnancy and aren’t sure where to turn for help, contact Avail NYC at (212) 689-1705 or visit our website today. Our discreet, compassionate client advocates can provide referrals for support groups and more. And for women who suspect they’re pregnant, Avail offers free, self-administered lab-quality pregnancy test kits, referrals for ultrasounds through a third-party provider, and can connect you with other important resources to assist you during this time.

Contact Us

Avail NYC exists to be a safe haven for women and men facing an unexpected pregnancy or seeking support after an abortion. We are not a medical provider.