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The Benefits of Having an Abortion Doula

You don’t have to do this alone

by Kelly Kathrens
You might be familiar with a doula who helps with birth and postpartum. But did you know there are doulas specially trained to help with abortions? Abortion doulas are great emotional, informational, and physical supporters.

The time after you’ve decided to have an abortion can be filled with mixed emotions. You might be feeling anxious, relieved, unsure, or all of these feelings at the same time. Whatever you’re feeling, an abortion doula can support you. Abortion doulas are there so you don’t have to go through the process alone.

What is an abortion doula?

An abortion doula is a support person who may join you before, during, or after an abortion. They are there to advocate for YOU and make sure you’re supported throughout the process. Most of them have taken classes to understand how best to help during this time. Abortion doulas are not medical professionals, but they can provide you with emotional, physical, and informational support.

There are doulas who only provide abortion support as well as doulas who provide abortion support alongside birth and postpartum support. Doulas who provide multiple services are sometimes called “full-spectrum” doulas.

If you feel you could benefit from having extra support during an abortion, there’s no harm in reaching out. Consider how much support you have in your life from your friends, family, and community. Keep in mind that abortion doulas are specifically trained in how to support you during this time in your life. They can be as involved as you’d like them to be.

How can an abortion doula help me? 

Here are some of the things an abortion doula might do:

  • Transport you to and from your appointments
  • Arrange transportation for you
  • Stay with you before, during, or after your abortion
  • Make sure you’re feeling physically okay 
  • Help you with emotional processing
  • Provide meals or snacks
  • Check in with you for several weeks after
  • Help you form a support circle of others who can help
  • Provide resources for community support

There are doulas who only provide abortion support as well as doulas who provide abortion support alongside birth and postpartum support. Doulas who provide multiple services are sometimes called “full-spectrum” doulas.

taking notes

Caption: taking notes

How much does an abortion doula cost?

The cost of hiring an abortion doula may vary depending on where you live. Some abortion doulas do not charge for this service or take donations instead of payment. If you can’t afford to pay for an abortion doula, that’s okay! Just let them know during the interview process. They may be able to work with you on a sliding scale or refer you to another doula who does.

How do I find an abortion doula?

Depending on which state you live in, this can be tricky. There is no definitive list of doulas, or abortion doulas. Start by searching for doulas in your area. Their websites or social media might say if they offer abortion support, but depending on state legislation they might not advertise that service.

Your abortion doula will listen to you and believe you.

Contact a few to see if they offer abortion support. If they don’t, you can ask them if they know of any to refer you to. Smaller community doulas all tend to know each other and who to contact for what.  It’s a good idea to interview a few doulas if you have the time and energy. This can help you find a good match for your needs.

What should I ask an abortion doula?

Since every state has different abortion laws, it may help to have a short list of questions to ask an abortion doula:

  • Where did you receive your training?
  • Have you provided abortion support before?
  • How do you feel you could best support me?
  • Do you provide transportation, or do I need to arrange that?
  • Do you charge for abortion services?
  • How long will you stay with me after my abortion?
  • Do you offer virtual support?
  • How long can we stay in contact in the weeks and months following my abortion?
  • Do you have a list of community resources?

What if my abortion doula isn’t allowed in the place I’m having an abortion?

For your information

Some clinics limit the number of people who can accompany you during an abortion. If you want other people to accompany you, your doula can always provide support before and after your procedure.

You can ask the clinic you’re going to if they will allow your abortion doula to accompany you during and after your procedure. If the clinic requires paperwork from your abortion doula, be sure to let your doula know well in advance. If your abortion doula is not allowed in the clinic, they can still support you before and after your procedure. Some clinics also have in-house abortion doula support services. 

How will I feel after an abortion?

Nothing you feel after having an abortion is wrong. Physically, you may have cramping, bleeding, fatigue, and nausea. Emotionally, your feelings may be all over the board. An abortion doula can help you navigate your feelings and offer suggestions on how to move forward. Your abortion doula will listen to you and believe you.

Nothing you feel after an abortion is wrong.

They can provide suggestions for ways you can help yourself. Things like journaling, joining a support group, or talking with a trusted friend might make all the difference. If needed, they can refer you to a therapist for extra support.

“It’s totally normal to have a lot of different emotions after your abortion. Everyone’s experience is different, and there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to feel. Most people are relieved and don’t regret their decision. Others may feel sadness, guilt, or regret after an abortion. Lots of people have all these feelings at different times. These feelings aren’t unique to having an abortion. People feel many different emotions after giving birth, too.” -Planned Parenthood

Whatever your reason for needing or wanting an abortion, it is valid. You are making the best decision for yourself. There’s no shame in reaching out for help if you don’t know where to begin. People from all walks of life have gotten an abortion. You are not alone. If an abortion doula could make your experience easier, reaching out for help can be an empowering experience.

Kelly Kathrens
Certified Full Spectrum Doula, Certified Lactation & Feeding Specialist (she/her)

Kelly is a full spectrum doula in Spokane, WA, who is passionate about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and feeding. She loves supporting teens, the LGBTQA+ community, and underserved minority groups.

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