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What Should You Do In Case of An Unwanted Pregnancy?

What Should You Do In Case of An Unwanted Pregnancy?

An unplanned pregnancy can be quite a shock, but there’s no reason to panic. You’re not alone. Almost half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are surprises. Here are the first steps you need to take:

Call your primary care doctor

It’s important to see your doctor so she can figure out how far along your pregnancy is. That helps determine your care and the next step.  If you don’t plan on keeping the baby, now is the time to consider abortion or adoption.

If you don’t know how long it’s been since you had your last period, be sure to tell the doctor’s office that. Also let them know if you’re taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications, or if you have a health condition like diabetes or depression. If so, your doctor may want to see you right away or may refer you to a specialist.


If you’re not doing so already, start taking a prenatal vitamin that has 400 mcg of folic acid right away. “Folic acid reduces the risk of brain, spine, and spinal cord defects in babies. In order for folic acid to work, you want to have it in your system before and during the first few weeks of pregnancy,” says Siobhan Dolan, MD. Dolan is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and women’s health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Avoid Bad Habits

 If you drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or use drugs, stop right away. All three can be harmful to your baby. Take good care of yourself. If you weren’t expecting to get pregnant, you may feel stressed or depressed. If you do, talk to your doctor or another health professional, such as a psychologist or social worker. Eat healthily and drink lots of water to help keep your energy up.

Surgical Abortion Procedures

Most abortions are performed using ‘suction (vacuum) aspiration’. To have this procedure you need to be in your first trimester (first three months) of pregnancy. (This means you are 12 weeks pregnant or less.) 

Your cervix opening is gradually widened with rods of increasing size and a slim tube is then inserted into your uterus. The pregnancy (the fetus and the placenta) is withdrawn with gentle suction. Another instrument called a curette is used to check the uterus is empty. This operation takes less than 15 minutes.

Surgical abortion after 12 weeks gestation

For termination of a pregnancy after 12 weeks gestation, for instance, in the second trimester, the procedure is similar to that of first-trimester abortion, but your cervix is prepared differently. This can involve:


Hormone-blocking tablets may be used to help soften your cervix. These tablets may be taken by mouth or inserted into your vagina. They take about two hours to take effect. The abortion is then performed using suction and instruments to remove the pregnancy.

Your cervix opening may be widened a little, and then have a special device inserted. This device swells over several hours until the cervix is opened wide enough to allow the abortion to occur. Medications may also be used. Abortion is usually performed one or two days later.

Complications of surgical abortion

Complications occur in around three percent of surgical abortion cases. The risk of complications depends on how many weeks pregnant you are. Abortions performed in the first trimester are the safest. Most surgical abortions are performed in the first trimester. Complications of surgical abortion can include: 

Hemorrhage – bleeding after an abortion should be similar to a menstrual period. If heavy bleeding occurs the abortion may not be complete. Sometimes, treatment for this is to do a suction curettage of the uterus. Blood transfusion is rarely required

Infection – a fever (high temperature) may indicate that you have an infection. This can be caused by an incomplete abortion or a sexually transmitted infection. Sometimes, women can develop a chronic infection called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Treatment for infection is with antibiotics

Injury to the uterus – the walls of your uterus are muscular but soft. Sometimes the surgical instruments used for an abortion can injure (or ‘perforate’) the uterus. In rare instances, this can cause an abdominal infection (peritonitis) and severe blood loss. This complication is very rare and, if it occurs, will usually be recognized and treated straight away

Injury to the cervix – the cervix is stretched during an abortion. If you have multiple procedures the cervix can weaken – this is sometimes called an ‘incompetent’ cervix.

An incompetent cervix can cause problems in later pregnancies because it is too weak to remain fully closed under the weight of a growing pregnancy. These last two complications are rare because surgical abortions are undertaken by experienced surgeons.

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