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As a Significant Other, you may experience many complicated feelings while waiting today. It’s only natural. This booklet will help answer your questions about the procedure, how a woman feels after surgery and how you can help.
How you can help…
The patient needs your support and encouragement. She has chosen to confide in you during this very stressful and emotional time. Please reinforce that she is a good person and is important in your life.
Be positive. Offer her your love and respect. Remind her of all the valid reasons for her decision. Be a willing listener and encourage her to express her feelings. But, don’t push her to talk if she doesn’t want to. She may not know exactly what she’s feeling and may have a difficult time putting her thoughts into words.
The decision making process…
We strongly feel a woman must take full responsibility for her decision to terminate a pregnancy. We proceed with surgery only when a woman has made her own, independent decision to go forward.
During our patient education process, we do our best to determine if the woman is certain she wants to terminate her pregnancy. We also make sure she has considered all her options. A woman is sometimes influenced by the reactions of her parents or partner. We help her explore her feelings and determine what she wants for herself and her future.
How will she feel after her surgery?
Physically and emotionally, every woman has a slightly different response to her pregnancy termination. A woman may be relieved after making a decision and acting on it. She might also be relieved that the surgery was much easier and less frightening than she anticipated.
Sometimes a woman experiences depression or feels a sense of loss. This is due, in part, to hormonal adjustment after a pregnancy. As a result, mood swings are fairly common. Deep feelings concerning her future and possible later pregnancies may also surface.
A message for parents
Your presence today indicates that your daughter sees you not only as a parent, but as a friend. She trusts you and cares about your opinion. You may experience helplessness, concern or anger today.
On the positive side, you might feel proud your daughter has capably handled this personal crisis. Her decision-making process may have drawn you closer together.
Please support your daughter’s feelings while not ignoring your own. Avoid exerting too much parental pressure and guide rather than direct.
Your daughter – child or woman?
After surgery, your daughter may behave like a child who wants to be pampered and/or like an adult who wants her independence. Confusing? Yes. Maturation has both elements of dependence and independence.
Your daughter is an individual with both strengths and challenges. She alone is responsible for her sexuality. Although you may want to, you can’t take responsibility for this portion of her life.
Today, your daughter and her doctor will decide which contraceptive method is best for her. Your daughter has been sexually active at least one time and most likely will be again sometime in the future. You can help by discussing sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV, and reinforcing the importance of her prescribed birth control method.
What parents can do to help…
What can be done for your daughter in the next few days? Give her “emotional space”. She may feel “up” or she could be depressed. Respond to her feelings rather than what you expect her to feel.
In addition to the attention you’ll be giving your daughter, we hope you’ll have someone with whom to share your feelings. Please call us if we can help.
Special post-surgery advice for parents…
Please do not punish your daughter or make her feel guilty. She has met the personal challenge of an accidental pregnancy and its consequences. She may be punishing herself because she feels foolish for getting pregnant. Let her know you still love and accept her. Tell her. Show her.
Let your daughter know you’ve made mistakes in your life, and that we all make mistakes.
Allow her to see her partner if she chooses. After a pregnancy termination, most women need and want their partner’s emotional support. Women who have support through the process of a pregnancy termination generally fare better.
A message for male partners
You are here today because you care and want to share the responsibility of your partner’s pregnancy. We appreciate you being here and we know your partner does, too.
An unplanned pregnancy creates a difficult situation for the two people who are biologically responsible. How can you help her? First identify what you are feeling.
• Do you think your partner should have “done something” to prevent her pregnancy?
• Do you feel guilty and accept the pregnancy as if it were all your fault?
• How serious is your involvement with your partner?
• Does she understand the level of your commitment?
• What is your opinion of her decision to have an abortion?
• Are you feeling helpless while waiting for her to have the pregnancy terminated?
Don’t be afraid to share your feelings with your partner. All too often, men who are facing an emotional decision try to hide their real feelings. They instinctively think they have to be strong and in control during a time of shared distress.
We’ve found most women want to know how and what their partner is feeling. And, women are disappointed when all they see is their partner’s cool logic and lack of emotions. If you can share your feelings, the outcome of the experience is likely to be more positive for both of you.
Ambivalent feelings about the decision to terminate this pregnancy may put a strain on your relationship. It is natural to have conflicting feelings about an unplanned pregnancy and how it affects your lives and future.
There is no simple or perfect solution to an unplanned pregnancy, but making a decision together can be a process that increases communication and strengthens your bond. If the relationship is new, unsure or troubled, such an experience can be a breaking point. Yet, if your relationship is strong and caring, sharing this experience may make your bond even stronger and closer.
Support your partner emotionally…
Some women want to be held and touched affectionately but not sexually after an abortion. This is a fairly common reaction which usually passes in time. If your partner is hesitant or uninterested in sex, don’t push her. Talk with her. Listen to her. Find out what she’s feeling.
If your partner chooses not to see you, accept her decision. She may change her mind and look to you for emotional support. Let her know you share the responsibility for her pregnancy. Please don’t blame your partner or make her feel guilty.
If you are going to continue a sexual relationship with your partner, please discuss protection against sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. Equally important, is that you discuss birth control options and which contraceptive method is best for both of you.
A message for friends
You are a very important and special person in your friend’s eyes. We appreciate you being here and we know your friend does, too.
Your time, presence and support can make a great deal of difference in the next few weeks. Your friend should have someone she can talk with, especially if she lives alone or with parents who don’t know about the pregnancy termination. Offer to spend tonight with her. If she has children, help with childcare responsibilities.
It’s not easy to confide a private problem to another person; yet an unplanned pregnancy is something that affects nearly all of us, both men and women, at some time in our lives. Thank you for coming with her today.