How to recover emotionally from an abortion

Trying to recover emotionally from an abortion, chosen for whatever reason, is a really shi**y experience. I’m sorry that you’ve had to go through that. Not only have you had to experience the physical trauma of the experience but you’re also experiencing the emotional fallout. You might be feeling everything from sadness to relief, to regret and shock, anger and maybe also guilt.  

You may be dealing with a touch of everyone else’s judgemental bullshit as well. It might not be overt judgement, but you still feel it. Unfortunately our culture still views this experience as taboo. Even women who choose a termination for medical reasons are exempt.

Regardless of why you’ve experienced a termination you will still need to work towards healing emotionally and mentally.

recover emotionally after an abortion

3 ways recover emotionally after an abortion

Talk your way through healing

Talk therapy can be a great place to start your healing journey.  I talk about it as a journey because I don’t want anyone to be under the impression that it’s a one and done situation. It may take months, years or even decades to resolve your feelings around a termination. For some women the emotions around terminating a pregnancy can show up again many years later. They can be triggered by family or friends having babies, another medical procedure or deciding to have children.

Counselling can be so helpful because expressing your thoughts helps to get them in order them for you. Instead of just being a jumbled mess of ideas in our head, our mind starts to organise them into logical sentences to say out loud. This can help to make an abortion experience a little less confusing and messy in our heads. 

It’s important to find someone to talk to who is helpful and non-judgemental in this situation. That might be a close friend who has also experienced a termination, but who has resolved their feelings around it. Or it might be a hired counsellor who can help you work through your emotions.

Please DO NOT keep talking to someone who is making you feel worse about your termination. Sometimes we do have to wade through the muck and end up feeling worse before we feel better, but sometimes we just don’t gel with a counsellor and need to shop around a bit before we find someone who can actually help. 

Writing as a healing process

I know I go on about writing or journaling a LOT, but it’s only because I believe in this as a healing process so much. Just like talking, writing helps us to organise the crazy jumble of thoughts that can exist in our brains.  Unlike seeing a counsellor, writing is available to you at any time.

At 3am when you’re feeling distraught and don’t know how to calm down. Write it down.

In the morning when you wake up and feel blah about your day. Write without editing and see what is going on for you unconsciously.

At bedtime when you’re unable to sleep for all the thoughts in your mind – write them down and let the weight of them lift (even if it’s just for a little bit.)

Writing, especially when combined with other healing modalities, can be a powerful way to overcome difficult emotions and start to recover emotionally after an abortion. 

Process your emotions physically

A termination, for whatever reason, is still a loss. It can still be felt in the body and in the heart as grief.  Whether the pregnancy was unplanned or longed-for (as in the case of medical terminations) these emotions can be debilitating.  If the baby was planned, a termination can feel confusing because you may feel some guilt around whether this was the right decision. 

Healing emotionally after an abortion can be tricky because there may be an element of doubt or regret amongst all the emotions.  If the pregnancy was unplanned you may struggle with the conflicting feelings of relief and sadness.  It’s also okay if none of these feelings accurately describe how you feel.  It’s okay if you’re feeling really f**** angry. Or even if you feel a little bit numb to it all. 

While talk therapy and writing can help process some of your thoughts and emotions about a termination, it can be important to also physically release these emotions as well. Yoga is certainly not the only way to physically release emotions. But it is a very gentle and supportive way to start. There is a yoga class for healing after termination in my Online Yoga Circle. I’d like to invite you to join us there if you’d like to practise with with me.

Case studies of healing emotionally after an abortion

In the work I do with 1:1 fertility yoga therapy, I often work with women around termination in two ways. 

  1. Women who’ve had a termination years ago and are now struggling to get pregnant. In this situation the past termination often creates a lot of guilt and regret. My clients often struggle with the thought that perhaps that was their only chance at becoming a mother. Some are concerned their abortion is THE reason for their inability to conceive now. 
  2. Women who’ve experienced a medical termination after conceiving a baby who carried some type of genetic condition.  

In both instances I usually find that there is a lot of forgiveness to work through.  I recommend a yoga practise that helps women to soften into their experience (and their bodies). A meditation to clear the womb space energetically can be a good place to start. I also guide women through breath-work to release anxiety. Visualisations also help to help shift thoughts to a positive vision of future. 

I’d recommend finding a local yoga teacher to work with when you are processing heavy emotions. I do understand that this is not always possible though due to location, availability and cost.

If you’re working through your emotions on your own I’d recommend.

What now?

  1. Book an appointment with a counsellor.
  2. Buy a journal or notebook to start writing daily.
  3. Use movement to help shift uncomfortable emotions when they come up.
  4. Reach out if you’d like more support.

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