Hi Beautiful! Today we are creating a container of safety. A judgment-free zone for all women. Without bias. This post offers a gentle place for women to land while they process and recover from their abortions. I intend to provide insights and tools to help with the physical and emotional aspects of recovery and letting go.
This post is NOT about the decision of whether or not to have an abortion. It is DEFINITELY NOT the place reach out to me ask questions or seek advice about how herbs can help induce an abortion! As with all my posts, this is for educational purposes only. It does not replace midwifery care or act as medical advice. You are ultimately personally responsible for what you do with this information.
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I did a quick google search to find out just how many women are having children by choice and choosing to have an abortion. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), there are 40-50 Million women worldwide having abortions each year. The majority of women range from 15 years old to 44 years old. That is a wide range of women from teens to women who are already mothers. There is not just one type of woman who chooses a therapeutic abortion.
Those numbers surprised me. What those numbers show us is that abortion is normal, it's very common, everyday aspect of women's health care. Despite how prevalent abortion is, women feel so stigmatized and alone in their experience. This video is not going to get into the politics or morality of the issue. I am going to highlight how alone women feel and how lost they feel afterward, even though they are 1 of 40-50 million women who make the same choice.
A Safe Place to Land
Now that you are on the other side of your experience. Now that it's over. Now that you're done. You can move on and get back to normal life just like it never happened. You can go back to work on Monday. At least that is what the vast majority of women are trying to do. Women are going on with their lives as if nothing happened. Yet the feelings of grief, fear, acceptance, regret, pride, relief, keep surfacing, and women keep shoving the feelings back down so no one can see them as they smile and go back to normal life.
I'm making this video, not because I have the audacity to say that I know exactly how you are feeling. Everyone feels, expresses, and processes their experiences in unique ways. Everyone has their own particular set of circumstances and characters in their life story.
I'm sharing this video in part because a woman recently reached out to me asking for herbal support to help her recover from her abortion. And because, as a midwife, I've listened to and supported women as they processed their experiences with me. Most of them shared that they felt given their circumstance that they made the right decision for themselves, but they did not know what to expect afterward and how crazy their hormones would be. They did not have the support system or the tools to recover in a way that felt wholesome. So, they swept their feelings under the rug and hoped they would just go away.
Spoiler alert: the feelings didn't go away!
I feel compelled to share with you some ways to include ceremony, herbs, and meditation to honor your process of letting go and moving through your experience into a place of wholeness and acceptance. Some of these ideas might resonate with you. Some might not. Take what serves you and leave the rest. Please share what is helpful with your friends, sisters, aunties, mothers, cousins, daughters, and women of your community. It takes all of us supporting each other to create a safe place to land, to root, to grow, to bloom, and to heal.
The recovery process
Understanding Powerful Emotions
The physical recovery process can be pretty quick. It's the psychological and emotional process that takes longer—knowing how to take care of your body, or how to take care of someone after an abortion exponentially speeds up the healing process.
How a woman might feel after an abortion is related to many things, including the level of support she had from family or friends and whether she felt she had made the decision for herself or not.
Women who do have support, who can talk through their decision with someone they trust, and who have decided on their own terms to terminate cope with abortion in a positive way. The most-commonly reported emotion after an abortion is one of relief.
However, those who experience negativity after an abortion are more likely to be those women who have felt they needed to keep the abortion a secret or those who felt they acted against their own values or beliefs by having an abortion. Or the women who had to terminate a wanted pregnancy because of a maternal or fetal health complication struggle so much more with this decision.
Women often feel intense guilt after the loss of a baby, no matter how it happens. Many women express mixed feelings of grief and, at the same time, feel good about their decision. They know that it was the right choice for them at this time of their lives. And the pain of the abortion was not from the loss of the baby. It was more from the social stigma and not feeling supported by her community, family, parents, friends.
The experience of abortion depends on more than just a woman's feelings, thoughts, and personality. It is her ability to access resources when needed. It is her life situation and life history. It is her relationship with significant others in her life. It is her treatment from doctors, teachers, workmates, employers, and health workers. It is cultural expectations, society's expectations and beliefs, and the relevant laws, policies, and practices.
A woman's emotions immediately after an abortion can be made stronger by the chemical and hormonal aspects of the procedure, including stress hormones leading up to the procedure, and the chemicals involved in some anesthetic drugs. These break down quickly in the body, but the hormone levels associated with the pregnancy are slower. While the majority of the pregnancy hormones will go when the pregnancy is ended, the remaining hormones can take three or more weeks to leave the body. With pregnancy hormones being at their greatest levels between 9 and 13 weeks gestation, this hormonal shift can be significant. Allow yourself at least two or three weeks for these emotions to subside. with the most intense and overwhelming feelings happening on days 4-6.
Women will go through the stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. There is no right or wrong way to grieve; it is a natural and personal process that has to be experienced for yourself.
Physical Care and Comfort Measures
Rest. Getting the rest you need is paramount! It doesn't matter if you are a teen or in your forties, please get the rest you need. Get support with your schoolwork, call in sick for a few days from work, and consider staying home this weekend and not going out to that show with your friends. If you're a mom already, get help with household duties like cooking, chores, and childcare. Ideally, we want you off your feet so you can relax and recover more quickly.
Nourishment. Nourishment and hydration are foundational to your healing process! Eat healthy fruits, veggies, and whole foods. Especially in a time like this, you can enjoy comfort foods like chickpeas, coconut milk, and dark chocolate. It is time to be mindful of some things to avoid, such as sugar, alcohol, red meat, and dairy, because all of these can cause more inflammation. Your body is in a state of healing, and recuperation and inflammatory foods can cause more pain and discomfort.
Herbs. Let the herbs be a part of your support system. Cramp bark for the cramping. Yarrow for the bleeding. Red raspberry leaf tea is nourishing and tones your uterus. Red raspberry also helps with blood loss and maintains proper iron levels. Motherwort helps slow your bleeding and supports your mood. Cycle Relief has most of these herbs and is very effective at easing the pain of the cramps while still maintaining uterine tone, which is essential while you heal.
We just talked about this but, After an abortion, most women experience mood changes. These mood swings are sometimes interpreted as depression, but they might be the changing hormones. Women's bodies have to adjust to not being pregnant anymore.
Herbs can also support your mood swings and hormones. Adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha are appropriate here. So is Lemon Balm, a gentle herb described as the joyful herb. Saint John's Wort is a classic well-trusted herb for depression and anxiety. It is a nervine and is also helpful for body aches and pains. Woman's Balance Tea is blended with nourishing herbs, adaptogenic herbs, and immune-supporting herbs.
Compresses. Abdominal cramps and headaches are very common during and after an abortion due to the hormone shifts and the uterus closing back to its nonpregnant size. If you are cramping and are uncomfortable, you can place a hot compress on your abdomen and low back and a cold compress on your head for headaches.
Monitor. The two primary medical concerns with abortion are blood loss and infection. At home, monitor your vital signs the best you can. Keep your visits with your care provider to get your iron levels checked. Anemic women are more depressed, depleted, and prone to infection. If you are concerned about anemia or would like to prevent it altogether, get Energizing Chlorophyll to help build your blood and oxygenate you. Chlorophyll might also lift you up if you feel depressed and run down.
Baths. Proper hygiene is essential to prevent blood loss and infection. One way to care for yourself is to prepare herb baths, and Yoni steams. You can add yarrow, rosemary, lavender, sage, garlic, shepherd's purse, and sea salt to your baths and steams. The combination of these herbs makes a great antibacterial anti-hemorrhagic blend. We have videos about the therapeutic and ceremonial aspects of herb baths, and Yoni steams on your youtube channel and blog.
Abstain. Avoid sex until you stop bleeding to prevent infection. It is a good idea to give your body a few months to recover completely. Sex might be different now because of the fear of getting pregnant again.
Partner. For me to talk about, including and communicating with your partner is a huge challenge. Because, lots of times, the woman accidentally gets pregnant by someone not serious with or is a sh*t partner, which is why women are considering not keeping the baby. But even with a supportive partner, a man might not be able to understand the void some women feel for months or years after.
Your partner may respond and react to this situation in so many different ways, some of you will have a supportive partner that says something like, "I love you, and I trust you. If you feel like this is the best option for you, for us, for the baby, then I support you, and I'm here with you.
Others of you might have just heard something like, "well, what are you going to do about it?" "How are you going to fix it?" "Here's some money to go take care of it." "How do I know it's even mine?" If that is what you are going through then my heart wraps around you.
Honestly, even though they are jerks, my heart wraps around them too because they are afraid, they don't know what to do, or how to be. They are not prepared for this, either! Many of them are just kids. I'm not making excuses for their behavior. I am just pointing out they are hurting, and they don't know how to express themselves in a healthy way.
How your partner responds to you either adds a layer of support to help you navigate your experience and recover more smoothly. Or it adds another burden and feeling of loss, of being alone and of regret.
If your partner is supportive, connect with them. Understand that they may not express themselves as you do, yet they're grieving and are concerned about you. For your partner, the pregnancy may have only been a mental concept; they did not have the baby in their body like you did. And now he must cope with this decision and with a grieving woman. To avoid being overwhelmed by your grief, a man may try to minimize the whole experience and encourage you to get over it and move on.
Both partners need to keep the lines of communication open and allow each other to feel their feelings through to completion. Some couples might really crave physical connection intimacy to comfort them while other couples do not want to have anything to do with each other and sex. Sex is what got them into this situation in the first place. They do not want to go through it again.
Like I mentioned before, women feel a mixture of intense emotions after an abortion, and these feelings spill over into their relationships. Couples experience difficulties, such as poor communication and sexual disharmony. Many partnerships dissolve at this point, and both people go their separate ways.
Mental and Spiritual Care
I'd like to acknowledge here just how blind our culture is to the enormity of the experience of having an abortion. After an abortion, there is no going back. There's only moving through, and moving forward to your new self. This experience has now forever shaped your mind and heart.
Here are some ways to help you restore your wholeness and recover:
Share. Talk about what you are experiencing and your what-ifs and your hope and your disappointments. Give yourself permission to "go there" with a person that you trust, who is a good listener, and has a healthy perspective. Call a midwife, a doula, or counselor, or shaman, or pastor, or doctor and process your experience with them.
One of the biggest challenges women who have abortions face is that no one knows about their pregnancy. Often their friends and family didn't even know they were pregnant. Or people are trying to help, and they are telling you what you should do or need to do. They are laying all their unwanted opinions on you in a way that is not supportive but burdensome.
Space. To facilitate healing, I recommend creating a container of safety for yourself to process your feelings. What I mean by this is that you must allow yourself to take the time to cry to grieve and express your deep feelings. Please don't try to jump right back to your regular life and pretend like it never happened or that it's all fine. At the same time, encourage yourself to move through your grief as a way of moving forward with your life. It can be draining to you and your loved ones if you stay in a perpetual cocoon of sadness. There will come a time when you feel like you made it to the other side.
Honor. Find a soulful way to honor your pregnancy, your baby, and the release of that baby. Get creative, have a loving ceremony to let go of the baby, and say goodbye. Some ideas are naming your baby, lighting candles and floating them down the river, or releasing bubbles into the sky. Maybe make a fire, or plant seeds and make a butterfly garden to honor your experience.
Bless. Bless yourself, your body, and your womb. Anoint yourself with oils. Give yourself an abdominal massage. Give gratitude for all the beauty that is within you. You are not broken. You did not fail. I want you to feel this and know this for yourself, so I recorded a beautiful guided meditation called the pelvic bowl and body blessing for you to listen to and experience.
I also recorded another meditation for you. This mediation is very different from the first one. This mediation is about releasing the energy that is attached to you, to the situation, the procedure, possibly your partner. It is called The Power cord guided mediation to reclaim your lost power. This is a way to recover your energy and remove the unnecessary attachments that might be blocking you, draining you, and preventing your recovery process.
Move. Gentle movement is essential to help you move through your stages of grief into acceptance. Stretch, breathe, journal, yoga, tai chi, Qigong, walking alone or with friends, and dance.
If you or someone you care about has had an abortion, my heart wraps you in love and support. Eventually, these intense feelings will integrate into your persona and not feel so severe. I hope you feel safe and supported in your community, in your family, and in your own skin. Please take your time to go all the way through to the recovery process without any time frame restricting you. Recovery and healing do not mean forgetting and not remembering. It means you integrate with the experience, and you become a new, fuller person after.
Reach out and receive support. Also, it is essential to find the beauty and blessing in all of this. Even during life's hardest challenges, there are ways to stay grateful and express joy.
I hope this video, the herbs, and the mediations support your wholeness as a woman.
I'd like to extend an invitation to you. You are more than welcomed to practice Qigong with me as you recover or any time for that matter. Classes are live via Zoom. Every Friday at 10 am central time. This class is a donation-based class. To sign up go to www.pathwithharmony.com
Until next time my friends, drink deep and always walk in beauty!
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