Abortion is legal in India for married and unmarried women under Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act 2021 up to 24 weeks. Termination of pregnancy in India was recently increased from 20 to 24 weeks, in special cases. If a woman has decided that having an abortion is the best option for her, it is important for her to follow safe abortion practices and get appropriate mental health support. (Also read: Abortion rights face many hurdles in India)
Dr Niti Kautish, Director Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad, talks about dos and don’ts that must be followed in order to have safe medical termination of pregnancy.
“Having an abortion done by a qualified healthcare provider is the safest option. Educate yourself about your abortion options and what each one entails. Whichever route you are going, your doctor should thoroughly explain all the important details of what to expect before, during, and after the procedure. That should cover how it works, the side effects you can expect, based on specifics like how far along you are or what kind of pain medication you’re getting, potential risks and complications, as well as the clinic’s protocols – like if and when to stop eating or drinking the night before, depending on the kind of anesthesia you’ll have,” says Dr Niti.
The gynaecologist says abortions are safe medical procedures when performed under the care of a medical professional and carry fewer risks and complications than childbirth.
“Try to let go of expectations about how you “should” feel about your abortion. There is no right or wrong way to feel about it. It’s a really different experience for every person,” says Dr Niti.
Here are some tips by Dr Niti that will help you through this journey:
– Remove as much financial stress as possible by figuring out how you are paying for the abortion. How much your abortion will cost varies widely depending on a number of factors, including the type you are getting, how far along you are, the provider you go to, where you live, and your insurance coverage.
– Tell only the people you actually want to and no one else. When it comes to who you share this with, who you seek support from, and whose experience and advice you solicit and follow your own gut.
– Go into the waiting room with tools to distract yourself if you think you will need or want them. Depending on your specific clinic, you may be in the waiting room for hours before your surgical procedure or appointment to begin a medical abortion. You may also need to wait around for any pain medication to kick in or hang out afterward while it wears off and you rest.
– Consider bringing along a supportive companion. Some health centres will require you to bring someone who can take you home after a surgical abortion. If you do choose to have company, pick someone whose presence will lower any potential anxiety.
– Be clear with your companion about what you need from them. Do you require a ride to and from the health centre? Do you want someone to keep you distracted in the waiting room, lie in bed and watch movies with you while you recover from the procedure or wait for the medication to work, run to the pharmacy or rub your back. Figure this out and let them know. Helping them help you is something you can do to prepare yourself.
– Think about your birth control plan going forward to prevent another unintended pregnancy. It’s great to go from pregnant to protected. Many abortion providers will encourage women to enact a post-abortion birth control plan. For example, you can typically have an IUD placed on the same day of your surgical abortion or during your follow-up appointment after your medical abortion.