If you experience an unplanned pregnancy, you may feel confused and afraid.
There is an array of options available to you, should you wish to go through with the pregnancy or terminate it.
If you decide to go through with the pregnancy
If you decide to go through with the pregnancy, there are supports available to you to help you process and plan the arrival of your baby.
My Options have a freephone helpline and webchat that you can avail of.
The My Options freephone line can help you if you are confused and unsure on what to do. They can also offer you counselling, information on the options available to you and support services, including continued pregnancy support and abortion services.
For information and counselling, they operate Monday – Friday, between the hours of 09:00 – 20:00, and on Saturdays from 10:00 – 14:00.
Medical advice can be provided by My Options 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
They can be contacted on 1800828010 if you are in the public of Ireland, and through +353599138175.
The My Options webchat may ask for your phone number. This is in case you feel as though you may need to contact a GP for abortion services, medical advice from nurses so they can call you back with relevant information.
The My Options helpline and webchat are strictly confidential.
The HSE also funds free counselling for those who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and post- abortion procedures. These are free for the person who is pregnant, their partner and their family.
If you decide to go through with the pregnancy, there are continued pregnancy supports available. You may be in need of emotional support, medical services benefits and entitlements for supports and housing, and parenting supports.
As previously explaind, emotional support, My Options can offer you counselling.
If you think you may be pregnant, you should contact your GP or local maternity unit for information. Antenatal care is the term given to the care that you receive during pregnancy from a health care worker. This may also be referred to ask maternity care and pregnancy care. Antenatal care may be free from public maternity hospitals.
Benefits and entitlements can be accessed during and after the pregnancy for you and your partner. These include, but are not limited to antenatal care, maternity and parental leave, maternity benefits and child benefits.
If you decide to terminate the pregnancy
Abortion is the medical process of terminating a pregnancy.
Abortion is free if you are in the Republic of Ireland, and while you can still access an abortion in Ireland if you are outside of the republic, you will need to pay for the procedure.
There are two types of abortion available to you; a medical abortion and a surgical abortion. Both procedures must can only be carried out once a pre-abortion consultation has taken place.
A pre-abortion consultation is needed to make sure that an abortion is the right decision for you. While this is normally an in-person consultation, it may be a call or video chat.
Pre-abortion consultations can be accessed through a GP, family planning clinics, or women’s health clinics who provide abortion services.
During this consultation, you will be explained the process of the abortion, as well as being checked to make sure that you are not over 12 weeks into the pregnancy. Should you need to be referred for an ultrasound to determine how far along you are in your pregnancy, this will be free of charge.
You will also be asked why you would like to get an abortion, and if you are sure of your decision. You will also be offered the chance to be referred to counselling for additional support.
Once you decide to go through with the procedure, you will be talked through the options of both abortions by a healthcare professional, as well as being informed of the possible risks or complications. You may also be asked to take a blood test if you are over 7 weeks into your pregnancy to determine your blood type.
You will then be given the date of the abortion. This will be at least 3 days passed the consultation in case you change your mind. You can change your mind at any stage of these 3 days.
You will be asked by your doctor for your consent. This is to confirm that you have been told of the different methods of abortion, the possible side effects and risks of the procedure, that you understand the information and to double check that your personal information is correct. If you are under 9 weeks, this consent can be verbally given to your doctor. However, if you are in hospital for this procedure, you must give written consent.
A medical abortion is done by taking two forms of medication to end a pregnancy. This can be done differently depending on where you have the abortion, but it usually follows 3 steps.
You must be no more than 12 weeks pregnant to receive a medical abortion. You will be asked to sign a medical abortion consent form on the first day of the procedure, where your consent will be verbally given if you are under 9 weeks pregnant.
Step 1: Mifepristone
Mifepristone is the first type of medication you will take. This stops the hormones which allow the pregnancy to continue. From this, the lining of the uterus is broken down to the point where the pregnancy cannot continue.
Once this medication has been taken, the abortion begins. This is now irreversible. If you decided to not take the second medication, you pose risking the foetus
After this medication, most people do not experience bleeding or pain, and you are able to do normal activities. However, if you are concerned and feel as though you may still be pregnant before you take the second medication, you should contact My Options.
This medication may make you feel nauseous, and if you vomit, you should contact your GP as soon as possible in case you need to take the medication again.
Step 2: Misoprostol
Misoprostol is usually taken 24-48 hours after mifepristone. This comes in the form of two tablets that are taken at the same time. It should be placed between the gums and cheek to dissolve.
This medication can be taken at home or in hospital. Where this mediation is taken will depend on how long into the pregnancy you are.
Misoprostol makes the womb contract, which causes cramping and bleeding. This makes heavy bleeding happen about 2 hours after the medication is taken, but it may be sooner or later.
When planning to take this medication, your daily schedule should be planned accordingly. You may need to take some time off and ensure that you have some emotional or medical supports available, such as somebody to talk to and pain relief.
You may also feel fizzy, nauseous or have temporary flushes or sweats after this medication, as well as omitting and experiencing diarrhoea.
Step 3: Abortion is Completed
4-6 hours after the second medication is taken, the lining of the womb begins to break down. This causes bleeding, and most of the pregnancy leaves the body.
If you are between 9-12 weeks into the pregnancy at the time of the procedure, you may need to stay in hospital to be monitored.
If you are under 8 weeks into the pregnancy at the time of the procedure, you may only see the sac where the pregnancy was developing. If you are at home, you can decide how to dispose of the pregnancy remains.
Most people generally bleed for 2 weeks after the medication is taken. This will likely be a regular period, but you may also have some lighter bleeding up to 4 weeks after.
If you worried at any stage during this process, the HSE recommends that you contact My Options for support.
A surgical abortion is when surgery is used to terminate a pregnancy, where you will undergo a vacuum aspiration. A surgical abortion normally takes place if you are over 9 weeks into pregnancy,
A vacuum aspiration uses suction to remove the pregnancy, which is a quick procedure that only takes 5-10 minutes. This will happen in the hospital, where you will be booked in as a day case.
What happens during a surgical abortion:
During a surgical abortion, you will undergo a vacuum aspiration, where suction is used to remove the pregnancy.
You will have to sign a surgical abortion consent form before to procedure, as well as undergo testing to ensure that you are no more than 12 weeks pregnant.
You will be given medicine to insert into the vagina 3-4 hours before the procedure. This is to soften the cervix. You will then lie on a bed, with supports for your legs. Sedation may be offered through local anaesthetic (Which will numb the area) or general anaesthetic (which will put you to sleep). The type of sedation that will be offered to you will depend on where you are getting the procedure done.
An instrument, which is called a speculum, will be inserted into the vagina. This holds the walls of the vagina open to see the cervix, which will be widened using rods called dilators.
A tube will then be inserted into the cervix, and then into the uterus, where the pregnancy is removed through suction.
The pregnancy tissue will be disposed by the hospital according to their policy. The disposal of this tissue will be outlined in the consent form.
After a surgical abortion:
After the procedure is complete, you will stay in hospital for a few hours to be monitored by professionals, and to ensure that you are okay. You will also be offered a free post-abortion check-up 2 weeks after the abortion.
The length of this stay will be based on what treatment and sedation you had. If you chose to be sedated, you will need somebody to take you home, and you should not drive for 24 hours.
If you feel as though you still have symptoms of the pregnancy, the HSE recommends that you contact your doctor or My Options.
Post-Abortion Counselling is available for free by My Options.