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What to expect during herbal abortion
Physically & Emotionally

One of my visitors suggested including information on what to expect when using herbs for abortion. Please keep in mind, this is general information, collected from various sources and experiences from other women, as well as my personal thoughts and opinions. I don't have any personal experiences to offer here..... each of my attempts at herbal abortion failed. Also, please keep in mind.... every woman's experience is unique to her.

What to Expect Emotionally

Risky sexual habits coupled with late menstruation often lead to lots of anxiety; fear of pregnancy is something that is very real for women who don't wish to be pregnant. Fear is a formidable foe, and can influence our every action and move. One way to dispel the fear of being pregnant is to take a pregnancy test. In my experience the fear I have experienced not knowing was much worse than the reality of knowing yes, I was pregnant. Once the reality of the situation sets in it becomes a decision making process, deciding what to do, which in itself can bring its own anxiety and torment, but at least you are facing the situation head on. Making informed choices. You're not playing guessing games with yourself, or the possible child.

If you decide to take herbs or vitamins in an attempt to get your period started, you need to understand that doing so can cause complications if you choose to continue the pregnancy, and could also cause damage to the developing embryo. It is important that you be clear in what you are doing, that there be no doubts in your mind of any kind. You must be willing to follow through with the abortion clinic if your attempts do not succeed in accomplishing your goal. Its not worth the risk of damaging the child if you do not have the means or desire to follow through with the abortion clinic if your herbal attempt fails. Its not worth the risk. (I'm working on developing a page of suggestions for women who can't or won't go to a clinic that does not involve herbs or vitamin c.)

Women who are ambivalent about being pregnant (that is, on some level desire it) are less likely to be successful in terminating their pregnancy using herbal remedies.

When pregnancy occurs, your body begins to produce lots of hormones, some which are produced normally but in lesser quantities, and others are only produced during pregnancy, one of my visitors described it as such... "There is something tremendously energetic about pregnancy -- some call it hormones -- the energy itself can be frightening. Your body is rushing in one direction, seeming to free-fall. I know I became more psychic during (and perhaps, after) each pregnancy, yet the experience itself, during pregnancy, seemed more personally confounding and perplexing -- as my mother used to say, if my head hadn't been screwed on . . . I could not remember the simplest things."

When pregnancy is unwanted this energy often manifests itself as fear and anxiety. What each woman experiences emotionally is completely individual. Being pregnant when you don't want to be, is personal crisis. Panic, "what do I do?", is common...... It is important to not let that fear control your actions, or affect your judgment. The voice of fear speaks much louder than the subtle voice of intuition. Fear makes us do the opposite of what our intuition guides us to do. It is essential for you to cope with that fear and anxiety in a constructive way. To clear the channels to hear the whispers of wisdom from ancient grandmothers. To allow your intuition to guide you.

In my dealings with women who've attempted herbal abortion, It seems to me that those who approach herbal abortion from a fear based perspective are less likely to succeed than women who approach the matter in a level headed, calm manner. Part of reaching a place of calmness is accepting the reality of the situation and dealing with it. This often includes reaching out to someone - confining in a friend, or lover; seeking help from a herbalist, midwife, homeopath, naturopath, or other wholistic practitioner. Of making a final decision and being determined to see it through to the end - even if that means a clinical abortion.

If you are under the age of 18, that may mean confiding in a parent or other trusted adult. And making arrangements for a clinical abortion should the herbs not work. Don't approach the situation with the attitude that this has to work, and that this is your only alternative, because you can't tell anyone the fact that you are pregnant. Herbs are not the miracle you are hoping for. Herbs are not a reliable method to end pregnancy, and if the pregnancy is continued, you could give birth to a severely deformed child. I know it is hard to tell a parent that you are pregnant, but it is something I urge you to do. Once you are pregnant, chances are they are going to find out one way or another. If you use the herbs and they don't work, in time you'll start to show the pregnancy, better to fess up now and deal with the situation in a responsible way as soon as possible, rather than wait.

Facing the facts, dealing with the consequences of our sexual activity. It is important to deal with it in a responsible way. Once you are pregnant, that's it, you are pregnant. If you don't want to be, well then, make your decision, to end the pregnancy, or go through with it. The choice is yours, and there are many options available. What is important, is that you make a decision that you are comfortable with. It is important to make the decision that is right for you. For some women, having an abortion is devastating, something that is regretted for the rest of their life. Whether you choose to have the child or not, whether you choose to give birth and keep it or give it up for adoption, you need to make whatever decision is right for you. If now is not the right time, but maybe in a year or two things might be different, why not ask the spirit of the child to return when you are ready. The spirit realm does not exist in time and space as we do, time to them does not exist. And I'm sure the spirit child would be more than happy to oblige. Communicate with the spirit; this also helps in the release of the current pregnancy.

Meditation, visualization and relaxation is very beneficial and can help you accomplish your goals. Remember how your body feels when it bleeds. Here are some meditations and visualizations to aid you.

Herbal Abortion is not for Everyone
Herbal Abortion offers a glimmer of hope for those of us who dread a clinical abortion, or who feel they just can't tell anyone that they are pregnant, and don't want to be, or for those who can't afford a clinical abortion or those of us who want alternative options. Realize, however, herbal abortion is not the easy answer. First of all, herbal abortion is not very reliable, realistically, herbs may terminate confirmed pregnancies less than 50% of the time, and much of this depends on when the herbs were started, and very much on individual circumstance. At this time I don't have any statistics.

If they don't terminate the pregnancy you are obligated to follow through with a clinical abortion. If you don't, you may be faced with the hardship of caring for a severely deformed child. When the herbs are being taken the embryo is building the structures of the future child, organ systems, physical structure, brain development. Some herbs work by damaging this process. Giving birth to a handicapped, retarded or otherwise malformed child is a tragedy I don't wish upon any parent, and is equally tragic to the child has to endure life in such a condition.

Don't take any chances, If you can't get a clinical abortion if the herbs don't work, then don't use the herbs. This is serious stuff and should not be taken lightly. If you try herbs to end pregnancy - and they don't work you must follow up with a clinical abortion. This is all part of being responsible for our own actions, including our sexual and reproductive choices. And if you can be responsible in this way, then my advice to you is don't have anymore sex!

Herbs work best when used a few days before menstruation is due, or as soon as menstruation is late. If menstruation is two weeks or more overdue it is unlikely the herbs will work, but occasionally they do. There is really no way of knowing who they will work for and who they won't.

Who shouldn't use Herbs for Abortion

Finding Someone to Help Guide you Through
It is difficult for many women to ask for help when faced with unwanted pregnancy. Abortion is so controversial, we fear rejection by those who we might seek help from. There are many people out there who have knowledge of how to end pregnancy, the problem is finding one of them who is willing to help you. Look for herbalists, lay-midwives (vs nurse-midwives, although you never know), reflexologist, acupuncturist/acupressurist (there are points on the body which can be stimulated to facilitate menstruation/miscarriage), wholistic doctors, naturopaths. In short, look for people who use herbs in their practice. If you already see someone in these professions, start there, they know you, and if they can help you they will be more likely to do so. If you are starting from scratch, when you are making your phone calls, always speak to the person directly (vs. the receptionist) have them call you back if need be. First question, their stance on abortion, if you receive a negative response keep looking, if they seem receptive, tell them you would like to attempt other methods of pregnancy termination before resorting to clinical abortion, and see what they say, then take it from there.

Sometimes people who sell herbs have some knowledge of how to go about terminating pregnancy. Legally, they are not suppose to dispense information on how to use herbs, but some are willing, particularly if they know you a little bit. In my own experience, once while at the health food store, while buying a tincture of pennyroyal & blue cohosh the woman at the check out commented her friend was in a similar situation and after talking with her a few minutes she offered me her phone number, because it wasn't something she could openly discuss, for fear of losing her job. So you never know were you might find assistance or information.

If you can't find anyone to help guide you through, and you decide to go it alone, at least confide in a friend or lover, someone you know and trust. There have been several instances where women who were attempting herbal abortion without success, began bleeding soon after confiding in a loved one. Perhaps it is the lifting of the burden of doing it alone, knowing you have support. I really don't know, and maybe bleeding would have started anyway, but I've seen it happen a couple of times. Also it allows someone who cares about you in, giving them the opportunity to keep an eye on you and your well-being. All to often we loose sight of what we are doing to ourselves, blinded by our fear of being pregnant and the fear of clinical abortion. It helps to have another person there for us.

What to Expect Physically....
Always confirm a pregnancy with a test. Although some women would rather not know for sure, I think it is more responsible to know what you are dealing with. For example, if herbs start menstruation, which only lasts for a day, if pregnancy has been confirmed this could suggest a problem such as incomplete abortion. If menstruation is late for other reasons than pregnancy then bleeding for a day does not present a serious problem.

In general, when herbs succeed in causing abortion, cramping is often more intense than a normal period, bleeding can be heavier than normal menstruation. What you will experience depends a great deal on how far along the pregnancy is, and your personal circumstances. Generally you can expect bleeding to last 7 to 10 days, and it will be heavier than normal.

The herbs are safest to use (keeping in mind - natural doesn't mean safe) and most effective when utilized just before menstruation is due. If the menstrual cycle has not finished its cycle, the herbs won't start bleeding, so the menstrual cycle has to reach completion before herbs can cause bleeding to begin. When herbs are used the day before menstruation is due, the menstrual period is likely to be slightly heavier and slightly more crampy. Even if not pregnant, the use of abortifacient and emmenagogue herbs will by their nature cause menstruation to be heavier than your normal period. Clots and heavier bleeding don't confirm the presence of a fertilized egg. After menstruation is late, the sooner herbs are used the better. The more time that passes, the less likely herbs are to work. When herbs cause miscarriage with in two weeks of missed menstruation, the cramps are again, likely to be more intense than normal menstruation, and bleeding to last a bit longer than normal. You may notice more tissue than would be visible if herbs were employed before menstruation was due, only because pregnancy has advanced that much further.

As the pregnancy advances, becoming more established, the placenta forms, and the embryo continues to grow. In the following weeks, miscarriage/abortion is likely to become progressively more intense. Each week the pregnancy progresses the more intense the cramps will become and the heavier bleeding is likely to be. After 4-5 weeks of pregnancy (from conception) you may notice a purplish sac pass with the blood and tissue, the size of the sac will depend how far along the pregnancy is.

The herbs you choose to use will exhibit different effects on the body. With some you will feel uterine cramping, which will be mild in nature before bleeding begins. Other herbs (pennyroyal in particular) will cause you to feel ill, nauseous. For more information on individual herbs and their effects, see individual herb pages.

Signs of a problem

How long will it take? Again, it depends on the individual; how far along the pregnancy is; your over all health; how strong your reproductive system is; the quality of herbs used; and other unknown factors all play a role. In general, for pregnancies no further than four weeks (from the time of conception, ovulation occurs 2 weeks before menstruation is due) herbs, when used correctly, if they work for you, could do the trick with in as little as 5 days, up to 10 days, if bleeding hasn't begun by the end of two weeks of using herbs (or vitamin c) they should be discontinued and a clinical abortion sought.

Spotting If you begin spotting, but normal bleeding does not commence, you are close but not there yet. If you can't seem to get a healthy flow going you might want to consider increasing doses slightly if you suspect you are building up a tolerance to whatever herbs you are using. Or you could add another herb. For example, if using vitamin c & parsley, you could add dong quai. Or if using vitamin c & dong quai you could either increase the amount of dong quai slightly or add Black Cohosh to help the cervix to open up and release.

Once Bleeding Begins Once bleeding is underway it should resemble a normal period but be slightly heavier, more crampy and you may notice bits of yellowish tissue depending on how late menstruation is. At this point herbs should be discontinued and allow the body to do its thing. Observe what comes out. For more information on what to do after an abortion

Try to get a feel for how much tissue comes out - and based on how far along the pregnancy is. Remember, the uterus is small about the size of a walnut or plum.

What is Bleeding Like?

What will I see? When bleeding starts what you will see depends on how far along the pregnancy is. Many women report seeing large blood clots. I would also like to remind women that its normal for blood to pool in the vagina, especially if you are sitting or laying down. When things shift or you get up, you may feel a gush and that the pooled blood being pulled by gravity. Pooling blood will form large clots or dark red masses. This is normal.

If bleeding starts in the 3rd or 4th week of pregnancy (menstruation is 1 or 2 weeks late) women have reported bleeding generally to be like a normal period, sometimes heavier and more crampy that usual. At this time the placenta has not formed yet. The most identifiable object (most easily seen if you are using a menstrual cup) is what we like to call the tree of life. This may break up as it passes through the cervix, so you might not see it, and it will be mixed in with the uterine lining. When I had my menstrual extractions after the tissue was rinsed, the tree of life was easy to see, and is one of the main ways to tell that you got enough tissue when doing a ME. It looks like a little root, small and branchy, kind of yellowish, feathery or ferny looking.

If bleeding starts during weeks 5 or 6 you can expect bleeding to be heavier than a normal period and more crampy, some women in the 6th week and beyond have reported some intense cramping. Its worth mentioning that its normal for some of the symptoms of being pregnant naturally subside during these two weeks while other symptoms become more pronounced. Many women notice a reduction in symptoms and are inclined to believe the herbs are having an effect. The placenta begins to form during week 6 of pregnancy and the amount of chorionic villi increases during this time, (this is the stuff that makes up the tree of life) During this time the embryo is almost 1/4 inch in length. Its said by some, that menses is more likely to begin in week 6 because the body remembers that this is the time it should be bleeding.

If bleeding starts during week 7 of pregnancy (9 wks LMP) you can expect it to be more intense, and bleeding will be heavier and probably last longer than a normal period would, if you bleed more than 10 days get it checked. At this point, the placenta is established and producing its own hormones. The outer membrane becomes smooth as the chorionic villi outside the placenta degenerates. Week 7 also begins a period of intense brain development.

When bleeding starts in week 8 of pregnancy (10 wks LMP menses is 6 weeks late) there's a higher risk for incomplete abortion and hemorrhage. You can expect the experience not to be pleasant, cramps are likely to be intense and painful as the uterus works to push the tissue out through the cervix. At this time the embryo is 1" long. The placenta covers 1/3 of the uterine wall. The placenta grows to about the size of a small chicken egg. You may need to seek medical assistance. If not, watch for signs of uterine infection, and if bleeding lasts more than 10 days get it checked out.

For more detailed weekly development look at Pregnancy Week by Week by Uni Tiamat and In-Utero Development.

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This page last updated Sept 30, 2007