So: you or someone you care about has decided to use the abortion pill. It’s normal to feel nervous or have questions about what to expect during this process, but don’t worry – a lot of people have been in your shoes. We’re here to give you information that can make this experience a little easier and a lot less intimidating. You are not alone.
The most important things to remember now are that the abortion pill is super safe and effective. Having an abortion is also a pretty common experience. In the 16 years that it’s been available in this country, over 2 million people in the United States have used the abortion pill. This means that almost one in three of the women you run into daily have had, or will have, an abortion in their lifetime.
Just like any medication, everyone’s experience with the abortion pill is a little different. Most people have few, if any, symptoms after taking the first tablet. If you’ve been experiencing nausea during your pregnancy, you may want to eat a few crackers and sip some water before taking the first pill. Some people say they see a little vaginal bleeding on the day they take the first pill. While this is normal, you should still finish all of the medicine as instructed.
Bleeding and cramping usually start within a few hours of taking the second medication, and the amount of bleeding and cramping can differ for each person. For some, it can be lighter than their period, while for others it can be heavier. Most people fall somewhere in the middle and describe it as a heavy period for a few hours to a day.
While carafem will give you medication to help with cramps, it’s likely you’ll want to take it easy for awhile. If you can, let someone else take care of any extra responsibilities or watch the kids while you take care of you. It’s a good idea to clear your schedule for several hours after taking the second set of pills (when your abortion actually starts). Some people elect to take these pills at night if they have a hard time missing work or other responsibilities. Remember that you can take the second set of pills at any time up to 72 hours after your initial appointment with carafem.
A heating pad and warm blanket can help cramping, and some herbal tea or ginger ale might be good to drink. Most folks choose to wear loose, comfortable clothing. You might want to keep some snacks nearby.
Maybe you have a supportive friend, family member or partner who can keep you company. If not, don’t worry! We’ve compiled some ways to keep busy and give yourself some love this day:
- Watch a feel-good movie. If you can plan ahead, we recommend renting Obvious Child, which is funny, endearing, and about a woman having an abortion! Solidarity. You may also be able to stream from one of these channels.
- Take a long, hot bath or shower. Extra pampering encouraged in the form of hair/face masks, exfoliation, or bubbles. Which leads us to:
- Make a DIY face mask or hair mask!
- Journal to help keep track of your thoughts, feelings and emotions. No journal around? You can always write an email to yourself or make a note on your phone.
- Meditate. Get your thoughts in line with help from an app like Headspace, which provides guided meditation for beginners.
- Try some yoga positions to help de-stress and ease cramping.
- Indulge your sweet tooth by baking cookies or brownies.
- Read stories from other people who have had an abortion (more here).
Feeling like you just want someone supportive to talk to, at any point in the process? Exhale (1-866-439-4253), which has an awesome and non-judgemental talk line, is open for calls Monday through Friday from 2-7pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 9am-7pm EST.
Backline (1-888-493-0092) is another great talk option that can be reached from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada.
And, as always, you can give carafem a call at 1-855-SAY-CARA if you want to talk to a clinician.
Finally, remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel about your abortion — and it’s normal to feel a range of emotions. Whether you feel relieved, sad, or somewhere in between, you’re making the best choice for you. Don’t worry. You can do this — we believe in you.