Reassurance story – Surgical abortion with local anaesthetic at 8 weeks

by Jane

January 31, 2020

I wanted to share my experience in the hope that it might provide some reassurance to others in the same position as I was, and help to alleviate some fears. I found this site so useful when trying to make my own mind up about what to do. Today I had a surgical abortion in the UK under local anaesthetic, at 8 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I cannot describe my relief at how straightforward and relatively pain-free the entire procedure was, and how at ease I was made to feel by the clinic staff at BPAS.

Already having two small children, my husband and I knew that our family was complete. We had been using contraception which had failed, and so the pregnancy was completely unplanned. Having read about medical versus surgical procedures, I decided that I wanted to go for the option which would cause minimal disruption to our family life. We dropped the boys at school as usual, and then headed to the clinic. I arrived for my appointment at 9:35am. By 11:40, it was all over and we were in the car and driving home. It’s now 19:44 and the only discomfort I’m experiencing are some mild period style cramps – which I’m treating with paracetamol and codeine.

In terms of the procedure itself, I was first given two tablets to dissolve under my tongue. These were to soften the cervix and prepare it to be opened. I was warned of side effects such as diarrhoea and flu type feelings, but the only thing I experienced were very mild cramps – as though a period might be a day or two away. 45 minutes later, I was led through to the room and able to get changed into a gown. The staff were so friendly, and all female. They told me that the procedure would be so quick that they would shortly be putting the kettle on to make the cup of tea that I’d be having in recovery.

We walked into the room where the procedure would take place. The female doctor shook my hand and confirmed my details. As well as the doctor, there were three other female members of staff – one to help with the procedure and scan me, one to act as my care person, and one who was a student observing the process. It really helped me to feel safe and supported to have all these friendly women around me. I had mentioned that following a traumatic birth, I’d needed a repair operation to my perineum, so they were able to make sure that they took extra care in this area for me.

My legs were placed in stirrups, and the doctor then asked whether she could begin to examine me. As she did so, the three other women in the room all chatted to me and kept me distracted. I barely noticed the injections going in to my cervix – they felt like a few sharp twinges, but only lasted about 30 seconds. This was the local anaesthetic which would make the procedure possible whilst awake. I had also taken two paracetamol before the procedure to help with pain relief. The doctor then began the actual process of removing the pregnancy. I can honestly say that this part only felt like it lasted a couple of minutes maximum. There was one slightly uncomfortable sensation which felt a little bit like a tugging or sawing motion – but again this was so brief that it was bearable, and it was right at the end. After that, the doctor warned me that I might now hear the machine make a suction sound as it had finished the procedure. This is just air going back into the pipes, and is not the sound of the pregnancy itself being removed. Then it was done. I couldn’t believe how quick and painless it had been.

I was given my underwear back with a sanitary towel, and escorted to the recovery area, as I was a little dizzy from the anaesthetic. I was given a cup of tea, plus plenty of biscuits, and had to sit down for half an hour. I also had to take some antibiotics to prevent infection, and then after checking that my sanitary towel contained an acceptable amount of blood (there was hardly any) I was able to go back to the reception area where my husband was waiting. From the moment I left him to when we were reunited, it was less than 45 minutes, and most of that was just the time in recovery. We were back home before midday and I chilled on the sofa for the rest of the afternoon watching TV with tea, painkillers and a hot water bottle, feeling little more than period pains. I can expect to bleed for 1-2 weeks now, although most people stop after around a week. Tampons aren’t advised during the first week in case of infection, because the cervix is still open and takes a little while to close again.

I am so relieved and grateful that the experience was this straight forward. I feel that having closure on the day is a really helpful thing, as my concern with the medical route was that it might have dragged on for several days and I’d also have to witness the pregnancy being passed. Ultimately, it was the women working at the clinic who were the real angels in this process – they all made me feel safe and not judged for one moment. If you’re considering a surgical termination and feel scared, I hope this has given you some reassurance.

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