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How to Recover from an Abortion

Four Methods:First StepsHealing the EmotionsHealing the SpiritHealing the Body

Abortion is a common medical procedure that a female can undergo at some point in their lives. Yet the subject is extremely taboo, surrounded with religious shame, political oppression, and other social pressures. This unfortunate situation leaves women feeling alone and afraid when considering, during, and after the process of having an abortion - just when they need support the most. Keep scrolling after the jump to learn how to support yourself or a loved one when healing from an abortion, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Method 1
First Steps

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    Know that you are not alone. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, 2003 (via Exhale), 1/3 of American women will have an abortion by the age of 45, and around the globe, the lifetime average is about one abortion per woman.
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    Realize that abortion is a physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually challenging experience, no matter how strong you are or what your religious beliefs may be. Allow yourself time, energy and resources to experience whatever you need to at this time in order to heal on all levels. Take a week off from work or school if you can.

Method 2
Healing the Emotions

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    Consider confiding in someone you can trust. Who do you know who is compassionate and would listen without judgment? Think about which of your friends, family members, mentors, and other allies you feel safest around. They should be good listeners, able to reflect compassion, and pro-choice. Perhaps you know others who have had abortions, or who have supported loved ones who have. If you don't feel you can trust anyone in your close circle with this matter, there are other resources out there, such as Exhale, an after-abortion counseling talk line.
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    Treat yourself to funny movies, books, and other forms of entertainment while you are resting. Give yourself time just to laugh and feel at ease.
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    Don’t distract yourself from your feelings so completely that you fail to fully process, and thereby heal from, the experience. Take time just to be with yourself, a significant other, friend, or supportive mentor.
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    Cry as much as you need to. It is absolutely okay to feel grief. Don’t judge your feelings. Let them move through you.
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    Do art. Try journaling, drawing, painting, collaging, songwriting, or any other form of creative expression that calls to you.
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    Talk. You can even try talking into a recorder (a tape recorder, computer program... there are even iPhone apps for this nowadays) if you just need to get something off your chest.
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    Ask for what you need from your partner or support person.
    • If you are in a relationship, remember that, as difficult as your experience is, your partner is probably struggling too. He may feel guilty, conflicted, stressed. He probably feels remorseful to see you suffering, and feels some sense of guilt for causing your pain. He may not be good at conveying his true feelings, and may not know how to help. Ask for what you need. Tell him how he can support you. Men like to be of service in tangible ways. He will likely feel much better - and thereby be more confident, and emotionally present - if there is something clear-cut he can do, such as to buy you a heating pad and rub your back.
    • If you just need him to listen to your feelings, then tell him that, too. (Sometimes when women share their feelings with male partners, the men assume they need to ‘fix’ something. Instead of listening to what you’re saying, they’re listening for how they can help - and often become frustrated, and leave you feeling unheard. Lighten the load for both of you: tell him you just need him to listen, that’s all.)
    • If your partner is unwilling to support you, or makes you feel worse, remember that your needs come first right now. If he is being inconsiderate, insulting or guilt-tripping you, or simply unable to provide any support at all, it is best for you to take some space from him right now, and seek the support of friends who can truly be there for you. If he was not supportive of your decision or your healing, you have good reason to re-evaluate the relationship, but wait until the dust has settled and you’ve healed this issue before taking on a potentially stressful relationship reassessment. Also, learn to Recognize-a-Potentially-Abusive-Relationship.

Method 3
Healing the Spirit

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    Seek guidance. If you feel so moved, seek the guidance of mentors, counselors, or spiritual advisers you feel comfortable with within your own spiritual or religious tradition, or who are nonsectarian. Be careful to choose individuals who can treat you with compassion, not judgment. And remember that ultimately, you are your own best guide.
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    Get the lessons. Be open to receiving the message of the experience as a whole. What might this experience of being temporarily, unexpectedly pregnant have come here to show you? What life lessons did it bring up for you, or in your relationship? What parts of yourself do you know better now? What do you feel inspired to do with your life now that you did not before?
    • If you feel so moved, try communicating with the spirit of the aborted fetus - through prayer, spoken word, a written letter, art, music, or whatever medium comes naturally to you. You can tell it whatever you want to. Perhaps you are remorseful and want to apologize to it, to express your sorrow. Perhaps you want to wish that spirit a better home, a more ready parent. Perhaps you wish to tell it that you would love to be its parent when you are ready, but that’s just not now. Communicate whatever you need.
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    Communicate your feelings. You may wish to think about your reasons for not choosing parenthood at this time. What goals do you have that you wouldn’t be able to complete if you were to have to raise a child right now? Consider which of these goals are most meaningful to you. Can you nurture your efforts, or “brainchildren”, as you would your own child? This experience may bring to the fore “big picture” questions in your life, such as, “who am I? Where am I going? and, What is my purpose?” These are good questions to ask at any time. Welcome them, and be patient with the answers. Take time every day to meditate, pray, sing, journal, read self-help books, seek counsel, or do whatever it is that helps you discover your inner truth.

Method 4
Healing the Body

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    Avoid moderate to intense exercise for a week following abortion. Going for a walk, doing gentle yoga or pilates may help as soon as you feel you have the energy for it. Avoid doing inversions in yoga or anything that feels like a strain.
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    Do not have sex or insert anything into the vagina for at least a week, or as long as your health care provider tells you to.
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    If you are experiencing nausea, your health care provider may prescribe anti-nausea medication. You may find that salty crackers, dry toast, ginger ale or ginger tea can soothe the nausea. Eat small, frequent, fresh meals, and avoid excessively fatty or sugary foods.
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    If you are losing lots of blood or are anemic, you’ll need to build up your blood. Take iron supplements with meals and especially with something vitamin-C rich, such as orange juice or tomatoes. Vegetarians can eat iron-rich, blood-nourishing and fortifying foods, which include dried apricots and figs, dark leafy greens, beans (especially black beans), lentils, berries, beets, carob, eggs, goji berries, and any whole foods that you crave. Now is not a time for junk food or skimping on meals. You need your strength. See How to Follow Dietary Requirements for an Anemic
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    Rest as much as you can. Allow yourself to sleep 12 hours a night if that is what your body is asking for. You’re not lazy - you’re healing.
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    Make yourself (or your loved one) comfortable with a heating pad or hot water bottle, pain pills (non-aspirin), flowers, candles, natural light, privacy, Aromatherapy, soothing and uplifting music, a box of tissues, and anything else that makes you feel completely at peace.
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    Have a friend, partner, or massage therapist gently massage the belly and low back with soothing oils. A whole body, back, or foot massage may also do wonders to soothe your nerves.


  • Feelings of guilt and low self esteem are common after abortion. It is important to acknowledge these feelings and to hold them with compassion. Steer clear of individuals and organizations that prey on and reinforce these negative feelings as they will only slow down your healing process. You need only positive, compassionate influences at this time. Keep your boundaries if needed.

Things You'll Need

  • compassion
  • pain pills
  • heating pad and/or hot water bottle
  • comfortable bed
  • books
  • supportive partner, friends, family, mentors, and/or counselors
  • a nice "chick flick" and time off of work

Article Info

Categories: Pregnancy | Stress Anxiety and Crisis Management | Reproductive Health