What to expect before an abortion
It's important that you and your abortion provider have all the information needed to ensure you receive the care you require.
Pre-abortion consultation and screening is a normal and important part of the abortion process. It is designed to help you make an informed choice that is best for your health and wellbeing. It's the opportunity to make sure that having an abortion is the right decision for you, that you understand what to expect, and that you are able to access required tests, counselling and other support you may need.
During your first consultation (by phone or at a clinic)
It’s important to tell the nurse, doctor or midwife about:
- any health problems you may have, as well as any drugs or medication you are taking
- any cultural support or disability assistance you require
- anything about you that you want them to know about
- any concerns you have.
At your first appointment the nurse or doctor will likely:
- ask you about your medical history and overall health
- do a pregnancy test and/or ultrasound scan to confirm your current gestation (weeks of pregnancy)
- order blood test and swabs
- discuss abortion types available to you
- explain how the procedure works, the side effects, and possible risks and complications
- discuss what happens to pregnancy remains (foetal tissue or 'products of conception')
- advise you how to get counselling, if this is something you want
- get you to sign consent to (agree to) having the procedure.
You might also be provided with:
- contraceptive advice and a prescription, if needed
- information and advice on sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
You can change your mind
You can change your mind about having an abortion at any time before it takes place. Once you begin the process (take medication), you are unable to stop or reverse the abortion.
You do not have to have counselling to get an abortion but for some people it can be helpful to talk about their feelings with a professional counsellor before they make a decision.
If you're unsure, contact your local abortion provider and ask for pregnancy options counselling.
Preparing for your abortion
Your abortion provider will give you instructions about how to prepare for your abortion.
If you're having an abortion at a clinic, you will be provided with information about what to bring to the clinic and what you can expect on arrival at the clinic.
Can I have a support person/tangata tautoko with me?
Talk to your abortion provider about what will meet your specific cultural needs.
You can go to your first abortion appointment on your own or bring your partner, a friend or whānau member. You will have the chance to talk to the nurse or doctor in private. This is so you can provide information in confidence. This also allows the nurse or doctor to confirm that the decision you are making is yours.
If you are having an early medical abortion, it is best to have a support person/tangata tautoko with you at home and access to a telephone and transport in case you need advice or help.
Normally with later medical abortion at a clinic, it is best if your support person/tangata tautoko is with you to support you through the procedure.
Normally, for surgical abortion, your support person/tangata tautoko is not allowed to be present during the actual procedure.
If you are having a later abortion procedure at a clinic you will not be able to drive for 24 hours after the procedure. You will need to arrange transport to and from your appointment.
What to expect during an abortion
What happens during an abortion depends on the type of abortion procedure you're having.
Early medical abortion (EMA) or ‘the abortion pill’ is an option in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
A later medical abortion is usually used after about 14 weeks pregnancy.
An early surgical abortion (first trimester surgical abortion, also called vacuum aspiration or suction termination) is usually used up to about 14 weeks of pregnancy.
A later surgical abortion (surgical dilation and evacuation (D&E)) is usually used after about 14 weeks of pregnancy.
Contact your abortion provider for information about pre-abortion screening, tests and counselling.