It's happened. The stick turns blue. Emotions are scattered. Life seems to have turned upside down and inside out in a fraction of a second. You might be feeling happy one moment at the prospect of being a mother, and nauseous with fear the next. You don't know if you're ready for this, but also think that maybe you are. Everything is so confusing and happening so fast, and it's hard to think rationally about what the best thing to do is...
If you're pregnant now, and are considering making an appointment to have an abortion, make sure that you read the 15 points on this list first. They will cover the important things that you need to think about before making the big decision, and deciding to walk through that door to the clinic, or see the baby to term.
Read this list slowly. Or quickly. Whatever works for you. Make notes if you need to. Re-read it if you must. Link it to your partner, link it to your loved ones, link it to your friends. Once you've read through all 15 points, you will, hopefully, be better equipped to deal with whichever decision you decide to make.
15 Get Tested
Whether you're pregnant or not, you need to know now. This isn't a decision that can be put on hold. Make it a priority to find out. Do a test as soon as you can. You're able to do a test from the first day of a missed period. If you're unsure when your next period is due, you can do a test 3 weeks (21 days) after you last had unprotected sex. You can buy your own test, or you can be tested at a pharmacy (you might have to pay) or your local Dr's surgery.
If the urine tests are indecisive, it's possible to have a blood test. A blood test is more sensitive than the urine test you do yourself. It's more sensitive because less of the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) needs to be present for the test to give you an answer.
14 Accept The Condition
Okay, so you are pregnant. You need to accept this. You also need to realize that you're not alone. Believe it or not, but over half of the pregnancies that happen in the United States each year are unplanned.
Though it isn't easy, you need to try and have the right attitude from the onset. Don't look at who's to blame. Don't berate yourself. You need to harness the power of positive thinking, though that may seem like the most difficult thing in the world to do right now. Author of several books and practicing clinical psychologist Lara Honos-Webb advises that you ask yourself 'Am I OK, what do I need, and how can I comfort myself?' Basically you need to be asking the questions that will help you find the solution you need to move forward.
13 Make A Decision
It's crucial to give yourself time in order to make your decision. But remember, you don't have an abundance of it. The quicker you can make your decision, the better. It's now that you have to think about the 3 options available to you - pregnancy, abortion or adoption.
Two essential things you need to consider are: your life right now - what's most important to you? Your future - where do you see yourself? How would your life now and your future life be affected if you chose to keep, abort or have the baby adopted? Whatever you decide, it needs to be right for you. Talk to the father, talk to your friends, talk to your family, talk to your Dr, call a helpline or reach out to other women online to get opinions, thoughts and suggestions. When reaching our for support, always remember 'this is my choice to make.'
12 What Sort Of Abortion
The sort of abortion available to you will all come down to how far along your pregnancy is. There are two options available - a medication abortion or a surgical abortion.
The medication abortion works by taking two different pills. The first pill to take is called mifepristone. The medication works by blocking the hormone progesterone. Without this hormone, the lining of the uterus breaks down and the pregnancy is unable to continue. This pill is followed by a medicine called misoprostol which makes the womb contract, causing cramping and bleeding similar to a miscarriage.
The aspiration abortion takes place at your local clinic, and there are two different types of surgery. The first is vacuum or suction aspiration, which involves inserting a tube into your womb and removing the pregnancy using suction. The second is dilatation and evacuation which involves inserting forceps into the womb to remove the pregnancy.
11 Learn About The Possible Side Effects Of Abortion
It's important that you educate yourself on the possible physical side effects that abortion may have on you, as well as the emotional risks. Remember that side effects vary from woman to woman, however it's common to experience the following effects after an abortion, and these may last for 2-4 weeks: abdominal pain and cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, spotting and bleeding. As with any medical procedure, there are chances of complications. The main risks include: infection of the womb, some of the pregnancy remaining in the stomach, and excessive bleeding.
As well as physical side effects differing from woman to woman, the emotional side effects vary as well. Some women experience an intense feeling of loss, and are unable to cope with the decision they've made. The emotional risks cover a broad spectrum and include: regret, anger, shame, loss of self-confidence, insomnia and even, in severe cases, depression.
10 Some Women Don't Find The Experience Emotionally Difficult
There will always be cases where women accept the experience of abortion, and don't see it as an emotionally difficult part of their life. They may feel a great sense of relief once the abortion has been performed, feeling they can move on.
Everyone is wired differently and this isn't something to be ashamed or scared of. However, the sooner you do have the procedure performed, the less time there is to develop an attachment, lessening your chances of fostering emotional issues surrounding the abortion.
Nobody can tell you how you're supposed to feel about the situation. You feel what you feel, end of story. Dealing with an abortion and being able to move forward with life is acceptable and nothing to be bitter about. If you, by chance, don't experience emotional difficulties this does not mean that you would be a bad mother in the future.
9 Future Pregnancies
You may be worrying right now about how your chances for getting pregnant in the future are affected by having an abortion. You may be thinking 'Will I be infertile? Will it sabotage my future as a mother?' It's completely normal and okay to be worried about this, but having an abortion using either method is very unlikely to affect your chances of becoming pregnant again.
There is, however, a small risk to your fertility if you develop a womb infection and it isn't treated quickly. Having several abortions has been associated with premature birth. Your health care provider would talk you through the risks before administering medication or performing surgery.
Many women are capable of becoming pregnant immediately following an abortion, so if you don't want this to happen it's important you start to use contraception straight away.
8 You're Not Alone
Having an abortion does not make you a bad person. There is no reason for you to be ashamed and, despite what you might be thinking, you're not alone in this.
If you feel that you're weighed down with the pressure of the decision, talk, share, be open with what you're dealing with and help will come to you in droves. You probably won't even need to get out of your PJ's to get some honest, good advice. Not Alone is an excellent go-to website, offering women a platform to share their stories of abortion.
Be it your partner, your mother, that friend you made on Facebook who always knows the right thing to say, a forum, or the website I mentioned before, do not be afraid to reach out. Though it may be challenging and hard to believe right now, sharing how you are feeling can empower you.
7 It's Safe
This is probably one of your burning questions - is abortion safe? And the answer is yes, abortion is safe. Medication abortions have been used safely in Europe since the late 80's and the 2000's in the United States. Major problems with this form of abortion are rare.
Aspirations abortions have been safely and commonly used for more than 40 years. This form of abortion is safest when performed in the first 8 weeks. After 8 weeks the chances of complications arising can increase. Another reason to act on your decision quickly.
Despite complications being rare, it's extremely important that you let at least one person know what you're doing. Dr's advise that if you take the abortion pill, you should have someone available in case you need medical assistance. When you have the surgical procedure, someone will need to be available to drive you home from the clinic.
6 Avoid Being Isolated
Avoid isolating yourself during the time you have to make the decision. You might be confused, scared and angry, making it really tempting to just curl up in a ball and ignore what's going on, ignore phone calls, text messages and the knocks at the front door. But what you need to know is that isolating yourself can put you at risk emotionally.
Sitting alone with your thoughts can let them spiral out of control, and negatively impact your decision making abilities. Though it will seem really difficult, it's vital that you're able to maintain a level head and get support from others that can help you to achieve this. To be able to make the decision that is right for you, surround yourself with those you trust, love and can count on.
5 Avoid Pressure
Do not have anyone make the final decision for you. Whichever decision you decide to make, you must know that it's yours. Some people may go to great lengths to influence your decision, and it's important to understand and accept that this isn't right. Make sure that you are 100% confident with your choice before going through with it.
The mounting pressure, however, might not be coming from those around you, but rather situations such as your finances, relationship status or health problems. If this is the case, access the help you need through trained professionals who could help you to approach and consider the options that you have.
If you make a decision when under pressure, the chances of you suffering mental and emotional difficulties increase. No matter what, this is your body, your life, your choice to make.
4 Many Women Don't Regret Getting An Abortion
While this might be hard to read right now, it's true. A landmark study called The Turnaway Study conducted by Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) made some eye opening discoveries when studying 1,000 women who wanted to get an abortion.
The study discovered that that although more than 53% of the women who got abortions found the choice "difficult or very difficult," over 99% of the women believed that they had made the right decision.
Singer-songwriter Sinéad O’Connor is one woman who didn't regret her decision. She said during an interview: "I didn’t have a sense of guilt about the abortion. If I had had the child, I wouldn’t have been in any state to be the mother that child would have deserved. It wouldn’t have worked that way."
3 In Most Cases Fetuses Don't Feel Pain
This may be something that has crossed your mind once, or several dozen times. Will it feel pain during the abortion?
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists state that "fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester." This is because the part of the brain which would register pain hasn't been developed yet. About 1.4% of abortions happen at or following the 21st week of pregnancy.
However, in 2016 the state of Utah passed a law requiring doctors to give anesthesia to a fetus prior to performing an abortion at 20 weeks of gestation or later. The law is under the assumption a fetus is able to feel pain at this stage of its development.
Dr. Anne Davis, the consulting medical director for Physicians for Reproductive Health says "one reason the question of fetal pain is so controversial is because pain is always a subjective experience."
2 Listen To Your Gut
While 'listen to your gut' may be considered an overused saying, it's so very true. Your body is powerful, and it knows you much better than you think. It knows what's good for you and what won't work. Trusting your gut instinct is often the best strategy when dealing with an issue as mammoth as abortion. You will know, deep down, if now really is the time to bring a child into the world, or if you should wait.
According to Psychology Today, "you'll often feel something, a sense of unease or 'rightness' below your solar plexus (just below your sternum) that gives you a clue about what you should or shouldn't do."
So, sit back and let your body do the talking for a while. Listen and hear what it has to say, as it could play an extremely valuable part in the decision that you choose to make.
1 Saying No Now Doesn't Mean Never
If you have an abortion it doesn't mean that you will never be a mother, it means that you won't be at the moment, and hey, that's perfectly okay. There might be experiences that you want to have in your life which aren't possible when you have a baby to care for, and that's alright. John Ehiri's 2009 book “Maternal and Child Health" actually claims that over half of women who have an abortion intend to have children in the future.
You don't need to feel guilty, you don't need to feel like you're a terrible person, you don't need to feel that you're any less of a woman because you decided that now wasn't the time. This is your life. You write the chapters of its story.