What is Self-Care and Why Practice it?
If you are thinking about getting an abortion, self-care needs to be on the top of your agenda. This means staying healthy, preventing illness, and if you do get sick, coping with it successfully – with or without a health-care professional. Self-care regarding abortion is not just about knowing where to go and what medicines to take but also about knowing what to eat, what clothes to wear, and how to handle your emotions.
Abortion can be a challenging experience, and it is better to be prepared so that you can handle everything in the best possible way. As a health approach, self-care is gaining increasing attention and support from both regular people and health-care providers. By taking care of hygiene, nutrition, and medical needs, individuals can ensure their health and well-being are at an optimal level.
Broadly speaking, there are two important aspects to self-care in relation to abortion – physical self-care and emotional self-care. You need to keep both of these abortion self-care aspects in mind in order to take full advantage of the strategy. If you’re not sure how to do this, don’t worry; in this blog, we will break down how you can practice self-care before and after your abortion.
Self-Care Before Abortion
Inform yourself about your rights. Knowledge is always at the center of well-being and self-care. To fully take care of yourself, you should be aware of your rights – what is permissible and what is not; who you can reach out to; and what protections you enjoy. This is especially crucial as abortion laws are different from one country to another and are always changing. You can read about abortion laws in different countries on our website here.
Equally important to knowing the laws is to fully understand the abortion process. Abortion is a safe and easy process, but there are several myths surrounding it. It is essential that you wade through the misinformation and learn about the safe abortion procedures as part of your self-care journey. This way, you will be fully aware of what to expect during and after the procedure and know how to manage your experience. You can read about these two abortion methods on our website: abortion with pills and in-clinic abortion.
If you decide to opt for an abortion with pills, it is important that you choose good quality medication from reliable providers. There are some counterfeit and poor-quality abortion pills available on the market. But with accurate knowledge and the support of professionals, you can make the safe choice easily and practice self-care. Some things to know are what the tablets look like, their names, how they are packed, what they cost, how many to take, and signs that indicate whether they are real or fake, etc.
As with every medical process, abortion has an effect on your body. Regardless of the method chosen (an abortion with pills or an in-clinic abortion), your body will go through a medical experience. As part of the self-care process, be aware of your bodily state and needs. This, of course, includes being sure about your pregnancy and knowing what stage it is in, but also knowing about your medical conditions and medications required for them.
In addition to your body, your heart and mind should also be considered as part of your self-care regime. Abortion can bring up many different kinds of feelings. It is important to be in tune with them and address them accordingly. The bottom line is that you should be kind to yourself. Given the level of stigma and shame that surrounds abortion in many societies, we need to gently remind ourselves that abortion is a part of our sexual and reproductive health and rights and that we are the only people who can make the best choice for our bodies.
As you prepare for the abortion, it is important to think carefully about nutrition. It is advised that you eat as you would during your monthly periods – in other words, eat anything that makes you feel happy, whole and comfortable – eat your go-to comfort food. It’s ideal to have some food in your stomach as the bleeding might make you feel fatigued, especially if you’re anemic. You should also avoid alcohol and recreational drugs as they may interfere with other medications that you will take.
Wear your most comfortable attire as you prepare for the procedure; it’s best to wear clothes that are warm and fuzzy. Loose sweatpants, a flowy top and soft socks are good options. If you are having the abortion at home, you’ll feel better if you’re snug and cozy. If you are going to a clinic, you will have to wait in a waiting room or some other public space. Something as simple as good clothing can do wonders for your feelings of comfort.
One of the most important pre-abortion self-care steps is to create a post-abortion care package. This should include details about possible medical care options you can access in case there’s a need and a stock of menstrual pads and general medications like ibuprofen. Equally important are food and snacks. In fact, if possible, try to prepare some meals in advance. Additionally, get some pregnancy tests to use two to four weeks after the abortion.
Self-Care After Abortion
At the risk of repeating ourselves, continue with the ‘stay-warm-and-fuzzy’ plan and wear comfortable clothing. The abortion pills can cause chills, so a wool blanket will be a lifesaver when it comes to your self-care plan.
Make sure you stay hydrated. Obviously, drink a lot of water, and also try to replenish your electrolytes. This will make a big difference in helping you recover swiftly. If you experience nausea, drink peppermint or ginger tea, or pop some mints.
Some people experience cramps after an abortion. Fear not! Take a painkiller with food or warm liquid such as tea, milk, or hot chocolate. Depending on the type of painkiller you take, you can take between 500gm to 1000gm, every six to eight hours. It is best to follow the instructions on the pack. You can also use a heating pad or hot water bottle to keep your abdomen area warm. A soft massage with lukewarm oil around the stomach and lower back is also a great way to relieve pain.
Make a conscious effort to rest and recover. For this, you need to cancel all your regular engagements like work or studies for a week or so. This isn’t you being lazy; it is self-care. It is what your body needs and you owe this to yourself. Listen to your body and take it easy for a few days so that your body can heal.
Since you will be spending some time at home, be prepared to entertain yourself. Depending on your interests, you can indulge in many different activities. You can binge watch feminist TV shows and movies, listen to podcasts or read books to educate and further empower yourself. If you are looking for more motivation and encouragement, you can also read about other people’s experiences of abortion and share your story. The safe2choose website has a great collection of powerful stories, which you can view here.
As you would before getting an abortion, you need to check in with your emotions and mental health after the procedure as well. This may differ from person to person, but it helps to identify a support person and reach out when needed. For some, this may be their partner. For others, this could be a family member or a friend. Monitoring your thoughts and feelings regularly can also help you decide when it’s time to seek professional help, such as from safe2choose counselors who can help you with any question or concern that you have.
In some cases, there’s a risk of infection after an abortion, but it can easily be prevented and treated. To reduce the chances of infection, you can take some precautions, such as not inserting any objects into your vagina, like tampons, until your bleeding lightens. Again, listen to your body and restart any activity, including sex, whenever you feel your are ready. If you do notice infection symptoms, such as fever, abdominal pain and foul-smelling discharge, visit a doctor. The doctor will prescribe you an antibiotic which will treat the infection safely.
A follow-up is usually not necessary after an abortion but you can always go to a medical professional after three to four weeks. During this visit, you can find out about your healing process and the size of your womb, bleeding, or signs of infection.
We hope these tips help you through your decision to get an abortion. If you have any questions or need any kind of support, the safe2choose team is always available to help. You can contact us here.