After you leave hospital

Medical termination of pregnancy up to 17 weeks and 6 days gestation

Everyone will begin to recover from this difficult process at a different pace. It will take time to recover both physically and emotionally. 

Physical side effects

These are the main side effects to be aware of.

Lower tummy (abdominal) pain

You may have some pain and discomfort. You can take both paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets as required. It is important you do not exceed the recommended daily dose so please read the label.


It is normal to bleed from your vagina for up to 2 weeks. This might be heavier than a normal period at first, but should reduce with time and become brown in colour. Use sanitary pads and do not use tampons, as they can increase the risk of infection.

Reducing the risk of blood clots in your legs or lungs

During and after pregnancy there is a small risk of blood clots forming in the veins of your leg or pelvis. These clots can travel to your lungs, which can be serious. You can reduce the risk of these by walking, and by moving your legs and feet while sitting or lying. You may also be given stockings to wear, or injections, or both.

Seek urgent advice if:

  • you have severe or persistent tummy pain
  • you have heavy bleeding (soaking a pad every one or two hours)
  • you are passing blood clots (larger than the size of a 10 pence coin)
  • you have a vaginal discharge which smells unpleasant or bleeding
  • you have a high temperature (fever) or feel unwell (including a temperature above 38°C / 100.4°F)
  • you have a painful, red, swollen, or hot leg
  • you have a shortness of breath, chest pain, or are coughing up blood

If you have any of these symptoms, contact your GP urgently, or early pregnancy and acute gynaecology unit (EPAGU), or go to your nearest emergency department (A&E). 

Getting back to your normal life

Having sex 

You should not have sex again until you have stopped bleeding, due to the risk of infection. You may wish to talk with your GP or family planning clinic about contraceptive options.

Menstrual periods

Your next period may not come until 4 to 6 weeks after the termination.

Emotions and feelings

You are likely to have various emotions, reactions, tears, and feelings of grief and loss. These are all normal. We will discuss options to help provide ongoing support. Family members and friends can also be very helpful. If you or your partner are struggling please do seek help and talk to your GP.

Time off work

We will sign a fit note for you before you leave hospital. We usually suggest at least 2 to 4 weeks off work to help with physical and emotional recovery. You should give the note to your employer. We advise that you see your GP for support after a termination for fetal abnormality or medical reasons. If you need additional time off work they can arrange another fit note.

Follow-up appointment

You will have a follow-up appointment with your obstetric or fetal medicine consultant at St Thomas’ or at your local hospital. A genetics consultant is sometimes also present.

The appointment will usually be in 2 to 4 months’ time and once any test results are available. The consultant will explain the results of any tests, for example, post-mortem and any genetic tests, and whether these affect any future pregnancies.

Useful information

Our booklet, called When your baby dies, has a list of lots of charities and support services that you might find useful.

Antenatal Results & Choices (ARC) offers support and advice to parents facing difficult decisions about fetal abnormalities. Phone 020 7713 7356 or email [email protected] 

FPA (Family Planning Association) for sexual health and contraception advice.

Resource number: 3698/VER4
Published date: December 2023
Review date: December 2026

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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