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Self-Managed Abortion: What to Expect After Taking Abortion Pills | Episode 6

Lesson 6. What will I experience during an abortion with pills? Before having an abortion with pills, it’s important to know what to expect. Being well-informed will help to reduce stress and anxiety, and can lead to a safer experience.

In this video, we’ll talk about what you may experience during an abortion with pills. After taking mifepristone, you probably won’t feel anything, o you can go about your normal activities. Some women have light bleeding after taking mifepristone, and that’s okay too.

Misoprostol is the medication that will start the main bleeding and cramping involved in the abortion process. The day you take the misoprostol is the day you will need more privacy, to rest, and to plan to be at home.

You can expect the bleeding and cramping to start within 1-3 hours of taking misoprostol. Both bleeding and cramping are signs that the abortion pills are working to push out the pregnancy. The bleeding is usually similar to or heavier than a menstrual period, and can include blood clots, which is normal.

Some women may have a little more or a little less bleeding, and that’s normal too. The heaviest bleeding and pain typically occurs 4-6 hours after taking misoprostol when the pregnancy is being pushed out.

Remember that you can take painkillers like ibuprofen right after taking misoprostol to help reduce pain. Putting a hot water bottle or heating pad on your lower belly can also help with pain. Aside from cramping and bleeding, you may also experience nausea, dizziness, chills, diarrhoea, headache, or a temporary rise in temperature after taking misoprostol.

All of these are normal side effects of misoprostol and will mostly likely go away on their own. You can reduce these side effects by resting, drinking plenty of water, and eating light foods. Most women do not see or notice anything when the pregnancy comes out.

Some women may see the gestational sac, which is white and sometimes looks like a small piece of sponge. If the pregnancy is around 9 weeks or later, women may also see a small embryo. Women can choose to not look at the menstrual pads, wrap them up, and throw them away as they would during their monthly bleeding.

Within 24 hours, the bleeding and cramping should begin to decrease, and most women start to feel better. In order to be prepared for the abortion, it can be useful to have some things on hand. This includes large maxi pads (not tampons), a hot water bottle or heating pad, access to a toilet, light snacks, a friend or support person, and a comfortable bed or mattress.

It may also be helpful to think about what time of day you will be able to have some privacy and be free from other responsibilities like work, school, or child care. In our next video, we answer the question, “What are signs of complication during an abortion with pills?”

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