A surgical abortion in an NHS hospital

By anonymous on 17/05/2011
I became pregnant whilst on the pill. I've been on and off Cerazette for three years. I met my boyfriend at the end of February this year through mutual friends. We hit it off straight away but waited over a week to have sex, during which time I started taking my pill again.
According to my scan, I became pregnant the very first time we had sex. I had mixed feelings when I found out I was pregnant. I'm 25 and I have a degree and good work experience and I'm actually really keen to be a mother. But I'm currently working in a job with a fixed-term contract that ends in June and I didn't think anyone would want to hire a pregnant woman. He was a lot keener for me to have the abortion than I was. It's not that he pressured me into it though, he said he would support whatever decision I made.
Reason finally won though.
I realised there was no way for me to support a baby financially and sadly I'm just getting to know my boyfriend, so we got a referral from an NHS family planning clinic.
My first appointment, the consultation, took place at an NHS hospital in an outpatient ward. The nurses were really friendly and caring. They could tell I was nervous and chatted a lot with me to make me feel more at ease.
I discussed the different procedures with the doctor.

I had read a lot of horror stories of medical abortions on the Internet, so I opted for a surgical abortion under general anaesthetic.

The procedure took place two days later, in the same NHS hospital, but in a day surgical unit. I was given two tablets to dissolve under my tongue in the morning before I came in. I went in at 8 am and was taken to my bed. The ward was full of other women there for various procedures (not all abortions). My boyfriend was allowed to stay with me for about an hour, which was really nice, because he helped me relax. The nurses were really caring and friendly and I met the anaesthetist and the doctor who would be performing the procedure. Both were very nice and reassuring.
After they told my boyfriend he had to leave, I had to wait about an hour in the ward, during which time I read a book. They took me into the operating theatre, where I met the anaesthetist and the anaesthetic nurses.
The anaesthetic nurses were amazing. At this point I was really nervous so they asked me about my job and my plans for the summer. As the anaesthetist stuck the drip in the back of my hand, one of the nurses held my other hand and told me to squeeze. She promised that she would hold onto my hand until the end of the procedure and joked that the painkillers they were about to give me would be like drinking a nice big glass of red wine.
I woke up 15 minutes later in the recovery room. A nurse brought me water and told me I had done really well. After dozing for about 15 minutes in the recovery room, they brought me back into the ward. I sat in my bed for about an hour, drifting in and out of sleep and a nurse brought me more water and told me to let her know if I needed any painkillers.
After an hour they brought me tea and a sandwich, and the doctor stopped by to tell me that everything went well and to wish me well. After they did a few checks, they let me go home with my boyfriend.
They sent me home with a after care instructions, phone numbers and some strong painkillers. I took 3 days off of work and just relaxed at home.
Physically I think I probably could have gone to work the next day despite having a general anaesthetic, but I didn't feel much like talking to my colleagues or the world in general.
I've been bleeding lightly since the procedure (it's been 6 days now) and I've had some cramps that were like bad period pain, but the painkillers have sorted that out.

I wouldn't say my abortion was a "positive" experience.

I feel relieved but sad and guilty. However the procedure was as painless- both physically and emotionally- as possible. I felt absolutely nothing under a general anaesthetic and the doctors and nurses who looked after me were amazing. I was a bit nervous about getting the abortion on the NHS. I thought I might receive better treatment somewhere like Marie Stopes.
I couldn't have asked for better treatment though- all the medical staff I encountered during my procedure were caring and extremely kind.

Editor's Comment

Contraceptive failure is always difficult and it must have been hard to find yourself pregnant at the beginning of a relationship. Sadness and guilt are common reactions after an abortion particularly if you would have wanted to continue the pregnancy in different circumstances. If you find these emotions hang around it would be worth talking through your thoughts and feelings with a post abortion counsellor. You can call the national helpline 0300 4000 999, log on to Online advisor, or follow the link to find a centre for post abortion support in your area.

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