Ending a pregnancy by abortion can be a complex experience, and is felt and lived by every individual differently. You deserve to feel loved and supported, informed in all your decision-making, spiritually sound and grounded, and nourished and enriched in your care. You deserve excellent, thoughtful companionship.
We know that 1 in 3 women/childbearing individuals will have an abortion in their lifetime, making it an incredibly common fertility experience. Still, in many communities the experience of abortion is highly stigmatized, making many seek abortion care alone, unaware of all their options, and sometimes even isolated from their normally supportive communities.
This isolation and stigma can be painful, and it is unnecessary. Seeking supportive, non-judgmental, nourishing midwifery care during an abortion can help a client claim the worth and importance of this sacred experience, place it in their lives in exactly the way they would like to, support their body before, during, and after the abortion, and secure detailed, holistic care during this important time. Many clients build a relationship with their midwife at this time, who will later help them with other fertility experiences and concerns, including (where applicable) future pregnancies.
When working with midwifery care during abortion, clients usually spend time exploring:
- a full range of options for methods and providers for ending the pregnancy, including hospital, clinic, and home-based options
- assessing current pregnancy symptoms and alleviation (if desired) while waiting for the abortion
- full physical exam, often with ability to date the pregnancy, assess any other gynecological needs, etc.
- nutritional and herbal recommendations for building strength before the abortion
- nutritional, herbal, and other holistic recommendations for extended aftercare post-abortion
- spiritual counseling and grounding, including recommendations around ritual and ceremony for processing the experience
- personal discussion on relating to current and future fertility, sexuality, family and partners, and self
- connection to local resources and support
- building a solid, realistic, supportive self-care plan to encourage the best possible experience
Clients in-person and long-distance can expect a lengthy initial intake meeting (about 2 hours) which may include any necessary or desired exams, discussion and consultation on above topics or any others that come to heart at the time.
Clients in-person and long-distance can expect 6 weeks of post-abortion care to ensure integrated healing, continued support, and discussions on returning to fertility. Most clinical abortion care features 1-2 follow-up appointments, if at all. Over years of experience, I have found this to be grossly inadequate. While I have great respect and understanding for the time restraints of clinical providers and clients, I aim to emphasize the post-abortion integration experience as a midwife as a supplement or alternative to clinical care in a way that feels most comfortable and comforting to clients. During the six weeks post-abortion clients can expect 5-10 appointments with the midwife (either in person or long-distance), depending upon their needs. Appointments are usually 45-60 minutes, and are un-rushed, personal healing time.
Providing care and options during abortion experiences has been a particular passion of mine throughout my midwifery work and work in the greater reproductive health community. I have served as a doula and educator for full spectrum doula organizations in Seattle and Boston, working in direct service for clients seeking abortion, as well as running community trainings and sharing my work through writing with the greater birth work community. I believe fundamentally in midwifery-supported abortion care, and in the right and importance for every individual to decide when they will parent, and with which pregnancies. I also believe in there being a wide range of options within the experience of abortion.
It is never too late to engage with holistic healing post-loss and many may find engaging with skilled midwifery care at this time deeply healing and honoring of their body.
In contrast to the clinical model of post-loss care, midwifery care for pregnancy loss usually lasts 6+ weeks, in keeping with the way we care for clients after a birth.
Post-abortion healing may focus on:
- nutritional, herbal, homeopathic, and other healing modalities to support growth, recovery, and transformation in the body.
- pain-coping techniques where necessary
- suppression of lactation and other pregnancy-related symptoms that may follow loss where desired
- holistic options for building blood, restoring iron, and optimizing healing after blood loss
- emotional and spiritual resolution or processing, including ritual and ceremony where appropriate
- connection with online and in-person support groups and community
- exploration of feelings about fertility and future conception and pregnancy
- exploration of sexuality and feelings about self, partner, families, supporters, etc.
- love, support, kindness, and encouragement
Caring for clients post-abortion is a meaningful passion of mine, as an aspect of reproductive health care I have seen to be greatly lacking. When we work toward holistic healing and processing of loss we are better equipped to handle future fertility experiences and integrate the loss into our lives in a healthy way. Too often, abortions remain stagnant in our lives without any facilitation of how to move with and through them and bring them into a revered part of who we are. We can change this. We can offer ourselves and our clients exquisitely compassionate care through these challenging times in their life as an investment in healing and honoring not only this experience but all past and future fertility experiences as well.