The steps following termination of a pregnancy


Pregnancy symptoms gradually disappear after a termination. And it is quite normal to feel all sorts of emotions.

You may feel good about your decision, and this may manifest itself as relief, a sense of lightness and peace. Or you may feel sadness, guilt or a sense of emptiness and loss.


All emotions are valid, as each person experiences the aftermath differently.

The decision to terminate a pregnancy is complex. Even if you have made the right choice for yourself, you may still grieve and need to seek help. It is important to think about your well-being and to take care of yourself.

To help you get through the aftermath, you can talk to someone in your life who you trust and who can help you get through what you are experiencing.


If you prefer to talk to a neutral resource, you can call one of the three specialised pregnancy and termination hotlines in Québec. These are the only three pro-choice resources that can offer you neutral and objective information and support.

SOS grossesse Estrie : 1 877 822-1181
SOS grossesse : 1 877 662-8666
Grossesse secours : 1 877 271-0555

You can also ask to meet with a social worker by contacting the health establishment in your area or of your choice.



You don’t feel ready to go back to work after a pregnancy termination? You may need some rest and time to yourself.

The Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) stipulates that following a pregnancy termination performed before 20 weeks of pregnancy, you have the right to take a 3-week leave without pay after the procedure.

The CNESST stipulates that following a pregnancy termination at 20 weeks or later, you are entitled to take a maximum of 20 weeks leave without pay.


Both parents are also entitled to 5 days of leave that can be taken within 15 days of the termination of the pregnancy.


You can ask for a medical note from the doctor you consulted for your termination.

Exercises to help you deal with post-abortion grief

The document below, in the form of a guide, offers you various exercises you can do following your abortion.


Exercises to clarify how you feel: see pages 14 to 17

Exercises to review how you came to choose abortion: see pages 19 to 28

Personal stories


Video clip of personal stories about pregnancy termination (2 min. 5 sec.)

This is a series of personal stories from people who have experienced a pregnancy termination. They reflect a range of situations and feelings experienced, and so may make you feel different emotions when reading them. The ages of the people and the content of the accounts are true, but the names have been changed to protect confidentiality.

“I was 23, still studying, still living with my mother, no job, no plans for the future. I got pregnant by my boyfriend at the time. When I found out, I was starting my second trimester, so the procedure would be more complicated, but one thing was certain: I didn’t want a child, I couldn’t have a child, I wasn’t ready to have one. The conditions were not there to welcome a human being into the world and give him or her all the love and resources necessary for proper development. It was this thought that helped me to make the decision and to mourn. My boyfriend at the time supported me in my decision and was there for me 100% during the process. I had no regrets, I still don’t. I even used this experience as inspiration for a performance art project that I presented in class. One piece of advice I can give is not to hold back on truly working your way through the emotions that run through you during this time. Let the bad stuff out. Don’t stay in your bubble, share your pain, show it, talk about it, make art or turn it into something productive, but most of all, listen to yourself, only you know what is really good for you.” – Alix, 28

“I had an abortion when I was 30. It was a difficult decision because, despite the fact that I was not in an easy situation (end of studies, no partner…), my head was saying: “Maybe you won’t have another chance to have one, my girl!  But my whole body was saying “no”! The abortion went well (even if it was not a pleasant moment), I was in harmony with myself. There were people close to me who encouraged me to respect myself and didn’t push me in my decision making. The staff at the abortion clinic were also amazing. All of this allowed me to slowly come to terms with this choice. At 35, I found myself in a similar situation: pregnant, a fragile couple, a distant family… My whole body was saying “yes”. And it went well too, and it’s still going well because the child is alive and well, and I’m still in tune with myself.” – Charlie, 52

“The choice was very difficult. The nurse at the CLSC who took me in was the resource who helped me the most. On the other hand, the social worker to whom I was referred didn’t really help me think through what was happening to me. I felt judged and left to my own devices. Having to travel 300 km to obtain access to the procedure caused a lot of stress and I had to talk to people to get help (I have other children who needed to be looked after while I was away, especially as I could not drive back by myself). I had no follow up afterwards other than with my family doctor. I had to go to a private-sector resource for help, as I felt the need a few months later and not during the procedure. I participated in an experience-sharing opportunity with the Montreal Women’s Centre to talk about the experience, which was very helpful. There were no resources locally that seemed to be able to help me.”  – Joe, 31

“I had my 2nd abortion [voluntary termination of pregnancy] at the hospital in Gaspé. I was in a situation of conjugal psychological violence, and I think the nurses at the planning clinic saw it right away. They accompanied me with incredible care. They made me meet several times with the social worker at the clinic to make sure the choice was really mine. Despite the intensity and the difficulty of this moment, I feel fortunate to have been so well supported by this team. They accompanied me before, during and after. It’s a tough time, when you need support and to feel valid no matter what the reasons are.”  – Sam, 31

What helped you make your choice? “Instability, lack of trust in my partner. I don’t feel capable of having a child alone.”

How did you feel about it just before? “It was very difficult. The symptoms of pregnancy are worse than usual… because you know you don’t want the child. Fatigue, your breasts are almost a permanent sensation that confronts you nearly all the time with the fact that you’re carrying a child you don’t want. The guilt of not wanting it, of not feeling able to have it. The lack of support from your partner, the fact that you are the only one to make the decision. The decision was entirely on my shoulders, the partner just shook it all off. It’s a lot of pressure, pressure you never forget, until after the pregnancy has ended.”

How did you feel during the procedure? “The termination of the pregnancy was difficult, the shame was very present, although I felt well received by the staff, respected. I was accompanied by a friend, which was a good thing. It was easier.”

How did you feel just afterwards?  “Afterwards and during the following days, I felt relieved, but also ashamed. The shame has always been there, throughout the entire experience, right up to today Why the shame? It’s hard to explain… I can’t put it into words, I even have a mental block.” – Dominique, 30

“I had two abortions in a short period of time, due to sexual abuse. It was clear to me that I didn’t want a child from this person, so the decision was quite easy to make. The first time went well, but the second time was more difficult. I had a lot of guilt about getting back in touch with this man. I was very emotional, and the doctor made a negative comment about me. Also, the medication I had been given intravenously during the first procedure was out of stock and I had to breathe in anaesthetic gas, which I found much more difficult to deal with.” – Ariel, 26

“It’s not as bad as you think. On TV or in the movies, abortion is presented as difficult and painful, but with the kindness of the clinic staff and the painkiller, you don’t feel anything. I had more pain and fear at my first PAP test with an unfeeling, dumb doctor than I did for my abortion in a women’s community clinic. But although I wouldn’t want to go through it a second time because it causes a lot of anxiety, it couldn’t have gone better.” – Lou, 25

“I had an abortion when I was 28. My boyfriend and I used to protect ourselves with condoms, but we had an “accident” and I didn’t use plan B because I had the magical thought that it wouldn’t happen to us. Finally, I was pregnant. My relationship was a long-distance one, and I was renting a basement apartment. So, despite the fact that I had a stable job and was the “perfect” age (is there such a thing as the perfect age?), I made the decision to abort. It was difficult, because I felt ready, but our relationship was not. The month leading up to the abortion was full of ups and downs, “keep it, don’t keep it”. But after the abortion I was relieved to have made the decision and to this day I have no regrets! You have to respect yourself.” – Kim, 30

“My abortion [voluntary termination of pregnancy] was a turning point in my life. It was a difficult decision because it was marked by immense ambivalence. Fortunately, I was accompanied by a social worker from the planning centre throughout my decision-making process. I was able to do a lot of introspection thanks to her listening, her non-judgment, her benevolence and her decision-making tools. She is the guardian of my process. My abortion, for me it was a great paradox. That of mourning and sadness, but also of new strength. The strength to trust myself, to respect my emotions, my needs and to give myself permission to listen to myself. My abortion was tears and a lot of love.” – Sacha, 35