In this blog, we will offer practical and supportive post-abortion care tips tailored to the Nigerian context. As an abortion seeker in Nigeria, it is important to have information on post-abortion care, signs to monitor for health, where to seek medical support, and how to seek emotional support if the need arises.

The Journey After Understanding Medical Abortion Aftercare in Nigeria

The decision to terminate a pregnancy is a deeply personal one, often accompanied by a range of emotions. In Nigeria, where access to safe abortion services is limited, navigating post-abortion care can add another layer of complexity. This blog post aims to empower you with knowledge and resources for a safe and supported recovery after a medical abortion.

Understanding Medical Abortion in Nigeria

A medical abortion involves the use of medication to terminate a pregnancy. This method is considered safe and effective until 13 weeks, even when administered without medical supervision. However, in Nigeria, legal restrictions require a doctor’s prescription for the medication, which can only be dispensed by licensed pharmacies. This can create hurdles for women seeking a medical abortion.

The Importance of Post-Abortion Care

While a medical abortion is a minimally invasive procedure, proper post-abortion care is crucial if there are signs of complications or you feel the need for external emotional support. It allows for early detection and treatment of any potential complications and provides an opportunity to discuss contraception and address any emotional concerns.

What to Expect During Your Medical Abortion

The process of a medical abortion typically involves taking two different medications at specific intervals. The first medication, Mifepristone, blocks the hormone progesterone, which is essential for sustaining a pregnancy. The second medication, Misoprostol, taken 24-48 hours later, causes the uterus to contract and expel the pregnancy tissue.

Common Side Effects and Managing Discomfort

Immediately after taking the final medication, you may experience a range of side effects that are similar to a menstrual period, including:

Nausea and vomiting: Having anti-nausea medication on hand and taking it as directed by your doctor can help manage this.

Cramping: The intensity of cramps can vary from person to person. Using a hot water bottle, applying gentle pressure to your abdomen, and taking pain medication as prescribed can provide relief.
Slight dizziness: Resting in a quiet and comfortable place after taking the medication can help minimize dizziness.

Creating a Support System

Feeling supported during your medical abortion journey can make a significant difference. Consider these tips:

Trusted friends or family: Having a close friend or family member you can confide in and receive emotional support from can be invaluable.

WhatsApp support group: Creating a private WhatsApp group with trusted individuals allows you to share updates on your progress and receive encouragement. You can set messages to disappear 24 hours to ensure your security and privacy.

Professional healthcare provider: Maintaining open communication with your doctor or a trusted healthcare professional, if you have one, is essential. They can address any concerns you have and guide post-abortion care. Counselors at safe2choose can assist you address any concerns you may have and Ally, our safe abortion chatbot is also available 24/7 to assist you with answers to some pressing questions you may have.

What to Expect After Your Medical Abortion

Physical Changes

Bleeding: Bleeding similar to a heavy menstrual period is expected for several days. If you’re soaking through more than two maxi pads per hour or passing large blood clots, for 2 hours in a row after you think you have expelled the pregnancy, seek medical attention immediately.

Discharge: You may experience vaginal discharge for up to two weeks. If the discharge develops a foul odour or changes significantly in colour, consult a healthcare provider.

Emotional Changes

Hormonal fluctuations: After a medical abortion, your body takes time to regulate hormone levels. This can lead to mood swings or feeling “pregnant” for a short period.

Emotional processing: The decision to terminate a pregnancy can evoke a range of emotions. Talking to a therapist specialized in reproductive health can provide a safe space to process your feelings.

Taking Care of Yourself

Rest: Allow your body time to heal and prioritize getting adequate sleep.

Nourishment: Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to support your body’s recovery.

Hydration: Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, especially if you experience nausea or vomiting.

Self-care: Engage in activities you find relaxing, such as reading, listening to music, or spending time in nature.

Complications: Early Detection is Key

Complications in a medical abortion are very rare, however, as with any medical procedure, it can occur. Early detection makes a big difference. Here are some signs to watch for:

Severe bleeding: Soaking more than two maxi pads per hour or passing large blood clots indicates excessive bleeding. Seek medical attention immediately.

Unpleasant discharge odor: A foul odor or color change in discharge could indicate infection. See a healthcare provider.

Severe abdominal pain: If pain persists despite pain medication, hot compresses, or rest, consult a healthcare provider.

Fever: A sudden rise in body temperature with headache, dizziness, and muscle aches could indicate infection. Seek medical attention.

Follow-Up Care Recommendations

While a follow-up appointment isn’t mandatory after a medical abortion, certain tests are recommended in Nigeria due to the limited access to safe abortion services:

Pregnancy test: Wait 4-6 weeks after your procedure for the most accurate results. Earlier testing could yield a false positive due to lingering pregnancy hormones.You can also do an ultrasound after 2 weeks.

Contraception consultation: Discuss contraception options with your healthcare provider to prevent unintended pregnancy as fertility returns quickly after a medical abortion.

STI testing: Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be asymptomatic, and anyone sexually active is at risk. Testing and treatment for STIs are crucial to prevent post-abortion complications.

Mental Health Counseling: Due to the heavy abortion stigma in Nigeria, abortion seekers may feel their decision to end an unwanted pregnancy is wrong and selfish and may feel grief and shame after the abortion. In instances like this, we recommend speaking to a pro-choice therapist who will understand your choice and help with your recovery.

The decision to end a pregnancy means different things to different people. It can be an emotional experience filled with anxiety and worry for some and very matter-of-fact for others. If you are struggling with your decision to end an unwanted pregnancy or have any of the signs of complications mentioned in this blog, we recommend you get post-abortion care to make the journey easier for you.
If you or anyone you know is looking for more information on abortion care and services in Nigeria, you can learn more on our country profile page.

Disclaimer: Due to legal restrictions on abortion in Nigeria, this blog post offers general information for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice.