How to prepare for abortion? Key thoughts and medical guidance

Are you planning for an abortion procedure? Then it is necessary to be prepared both physically as well as mentally. Anything unknown can cause fear and anxiety.

Mental preparation:

While seeking an abortion, preparation starts with the abortion decision. After the decision, the first step is to find a certified MTP centre for the procedure. For a safe abortion, it is necessary to look for a certified centre.

We understand having an abortion is associated with physical, mental as well as emotional considerations. But, the main thing that you have to keep in mind before visiting the gynaecologist for the opinion and prescription for abortion is that it is absolutely fine to get an abortion.

Most women hesitate to visit the gynaecologist in the first place owing to their fear of being judged. They think,

“What will the medical staff think?”

“Will they consider me insensitive?”

“Will they give me the proper treatment?”

“Will they tell about my abortion status to anyone?”

“I am unmarried. I don’t want my parents to be called up for consent.”

To emphasize, it is fine, safe and legal to get an abortion regardless of any other factor. You won’t be judged. You won’t be misguided.  Your abortion procedure will be private and confidential. Also, as an adult, your parents or partner’s consent is not needed, regardless of your marital status.  You will receive the best and the safest abortion procedure provided that you visit a certified MTP centre.

So how do you prepare for abortion?

Here we’ve come up with the key thoughts and approach you should follow when proceeding for an abortion procedure. The basic thing to get equipped with before seeking an abortion is education.

  • Legal aspects: While seeking an abortion, the first thing that clouds the mind of many women is the question of whether it’s legal. Many women fall victim to unsafe abortions due to the lack of knowledge about the laws governing abortions.

Seeking abortion for an unwanted pregnancy is legal in India under certain circumstances. The more the knowledge women have about their reproductive rights, the more likely it is that they will choose safe abortions.

In India, abortions are governed by a set of laws as laid down in the MTP Act, 1971. The act has been amended time and again as per the demand of the then prevailing situations of women’s health and status in the country.

The latest amendment that has been made in Indian abortion law is the MTP Act, 2020. These amendments have brought fairness to the reproductive rights of all women.

Many unmarried women seeking abortion opt for unsafe abortions mostly at uncertified facilities because they do not know that they can legally terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

  • Abortion procedure: There are three prescribed procedures for abortion as ascertained by the World Health Organization (WHO). They are:

Each case is studied individually by the gynaecologist to ascertain the gestation age, risks involved and other medical conditions before making the diagnosis and prescription for the preferred method of abortion.

The first factor for choosing any method of abortion is the length of pregnancy. The earlier an abortion is conducted, the lesser are the risks of complications and quicker is the recovery. This is because early abortions are carried out with a non-invasive procedure.

As recommended, MMA is prescribed for pregnancies to be terminated within the 6 weeks of gestation period. Up to 14 weeks, medical termination of pregnancy is generally recommended by vacuum aspiration method. And beyond 14 weeks, since the fetus size is large, surgical abortion method is prescribed.

If you are expecting an abortion in recent times, what is your gestation age? Under feasible circumstances, knowing your gestation age can give you an idea as to which method of abortion you may be prescribed with. This will ensure your anxiety is relieved.

It is important to understand that all the methods of abortion are safe provided they are conducted following the guidelines to ensure Comprehensive Abortion Care (CAC) to women.

The expert abortion team at American Hospital of Bangalore (AHB) follow all guidelines recommended in WHO’s, “Clinical practice handbook for safe abortion care” while conducting abortions at its certified premises.

The certified MTP hospitals are equipped with all the medical facilities, trained medical staff and pieces of equipment. They not only have the medical facilities, but they are also trained to handle all emergencies that may arise during the procedure.

When you speak with the gynaecologist at the hospital, you will be prescribed with an abortion procedure according to your specific case. Once you know the procedure, you now have to do the preparations specific to the abortion procedure.

Preparation for Medical abortion:

Medical abortion is the earliest method to terminate any pregnancy. Are you pregnant for less than 6 weeks? Then, you will most likely be receiving safe abortion pills for pregnancy termination. Except for preparing mentally to visit the gynaecologist, there absolutely is no necessity for any other preparation.

You can visit the certified MTP centre alone or accompanied by an attendant if you are above 18 years of age. The hospital seeks only your consent in such cases as asked by the abortion law of India. No parental, spousal or partner consent is required for adults.

You will receive the abortion pills on your first visit to avoid any delay. You will be advised when to take the abortion pills. In the case of vaginal administration, a trained medical staff member will do the needful. It is an out-patient procedure and you can leave the facility after administration.

You must stay at home after the administration of abortion pills. You will likely experience abdominal cramps and bleeding within 24 hours after taking abortion pills. All the unwanted products of gestation (POG) will get evacuated naturally like periodic menstrual flow. It is advised to use a sanitary napkin before leaving the facility. Just in case it takes you a little longer than expected to arrive home and bleeding gets initiated, your clothes will not get spoilt.

The pain that may accompany the procedure is not very intense. Some women may not even feel any pain. However, analgesics (pain relievers) will be prescribed to you for pain management. Within a couple of days, you will feel better.

It is advised to have a healthy diet post-abortion for a speedy recovery. You will receive guidance regarding the same from the doctor on your first visit itself. After a week, you are required to call the concerned gynaecologist to ensure complete recovery.

Most likely, the abortions performed with the medical method are spontaneous and do not involve any complication. However, every individual behaves differently, and you should keep a check when to call the doctor.

Here are some instances when to check with your gynaecologist:

  • If the vaginal bleeding continues above a week. This may be due to hormonal imbalance or due to an incomplete abortion.
  • If you have a fever. This may be due to any infection.

Though the chances for complications are very rare, it is best to follow-up to ensure complete recovery.

Preparation for surgical abortion:

Surgical abortion things to know is prescribed in case length of pregnancy is past 14 weeks. The mental preparation before an abortion is similar for any kind of procedure.

If you are about to get an abortion with this length of pregnancy, then there are a few things you should take note of:

  • As the name suggests, surgical abortion involves surgery. But, you need not panic. Though the procedure is slightly invasive, it is a safe procedure.
  • For surgical abortion explained , there are restrictions for eating and/or drinking anything before the procedure. This depends upon the type of anaesthetic agent being employed for your procedure. You will receive the needed guidance at your first appointment or call with the doctor, especially international patients so you are well prepared before arrival.
  • Since anaesthesia will be used during the procedure, you need not bother about pain. There are different types of anaesthesia options available. The choice rests on your anaesthetist according to your specific case.

Here’s a brief introduction of the types of anaesthetics used for abortion procedures: 

    • General anaesthesia: This anaesthesia will put you in sleep. You will be unconscious.
    • Local anaesthesia: Local means application only in the area where surgery is to be performed.There will be no feeling of pain or any other sensation. During a surgical abortion, a local anaesthetic agent is injected in the cervix. This makes the whole cervix region numb while keeping you awake. You will be awake but will not feel anything where the surgery is being performed.
    • Local anaesthesia with sedation: In this case, a local anaesthetic is injected similarly as mentioned above. Sedation is done using a sedating agent injected intravenously. This will keep you calm and your anxiety relieved. It is like an induced sleep but not completely unconscious like with a general anaesthetic.

Most probably you will be given hospital clothes to be worn during the procedure. But there may be instances where the surgery is performed while you are wearing your clothes. So, you can carry a pair of loose and comfortable clothing. It is always good to carry an extra pair of an outfit. Though needed rarely, you will have alternative clothing in case of bleeding.

  • It is better to have company while visiting for the abortion procedure. Though you will feel fine to leave for home the same day after the procedure, it is always good to have a companion. Love, support, care and concern will help you in feeling comfortable. Besides, you will be guided back home safely.
  • For surgical abortion, many women think that the procedure will likely involve cuts and bruises in the abdomen like that of a caesarean section. But, it is not true. Surgical abortion under certain circumstances is legal for up to 24 weeks of gestation period. By this time, the size of the fetus is not large enough to be choosing a caesarean section for abortion.
  • The surgical abortion procedure is a vaginal procedure. The cervix is dilated and opened wide enough to let the instruments pass through. The uterine contents are evacuated manually by a trained and experienced gynaecologist. The procedure lasts for less than 30 minutes. And you can go back home the same day as soon as you start feeling better.
  • Broadly speaking, both vacuum aspiration and D & E methods of abortion can be categorized as surgical procedures. Most of the preparation going in is similar with a few differences. Abortion by vacuum aspiration is done between 6 weeks to 14 weeks of gestation. Whereas, D & E procedure is followed for all abortions exceeding gestation length of 14 weeks.
  • You will be advised a healthy diet for a speedy recovery. Antibiotics will be prescribed to rule out any occurrence of infections. Hematinics will be prescribed to make up for the blood loss. For abdominal cramps and pain, pain relievers will also be prescribed to be taken if any pain episode shows up.
  • Though the procedure is safe and there are only light chances for any complication, still, it is better to be educated about the same. This is necessary so that you know when to call the doctor without any delay. These are:
    • Haemorrhage: The vaginal bleeding after the abortion procedure is likely similar to a normal menstrual period. However, if it lasts for more than a week, you should call the doctor and seek help. It happens with incomplete abortions. There are very rare chances of incomplete abortions with surgical methods when done at certified MTP centres. But they are very common when performed by unsafe means.
    • Infections: In case you have a high body temperature, this may be due to infections. Again, this is rare with a qualified doctor performing abortions because a trained doctor will likely prescribe you antibiotics at the time you leave the facility after abortion.

After you undergo a medical or surgical abortion procedure, it will be good for you to rest for a couple of days. Healing improves in the resting state. Moreover, after a considerable amount of rest, you will feel good in health and spirit before you return to work.

Since you will be resting for a day or so, it is better to have everything that you might need at home before the abortion itself. Once you are back at home after the abortion, you will find everything that you might need in place.

Seek professional medical help

If you have any doubts prevailing in your mind regarding the following abortion procedure, feel free to reach out our expert abortion team at AHB. We are just a call away. You can either call us, message us or reach us through WhatsApp. What are your concerns regarding an abortion or preparing for an abortion procedure? Do you have any questions? Let us know. We’re here to help.