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We're the leading independent provider of sexual and reproductive health services in the UK.

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How to prepare for your abortion

Getting ready for you appointment

After you have considered your treatment options and called us to book, you can begin to prepare for your abortion appointment.

On this page you'll find information on what to bring with you, how to arrange travel, guidance on eating and drinking before your treatment, and other information to help you prepare for your abortion.

If you feel that you would like to speak to a counsellor to talk through your decision, call us for a counselling appointment. We can arrange a face-to-face appointment for you in one of our clinics, or a telephone appointment at a time that suits you. All NHS clients are entitled to free counselling sessions before, or any time after treatment.

Arranging for someone to come with you

We strongly recommend you bring a friend or member of your family with you when you have your abortion.

They can stay with you in the waiting area, but not during your consultation, treatment, or in the recovery area. Our nurses and healthcare assistants will be there to support you.

If you’re under 16, we strongly recommend that an adult (someone 18 or over) accompanies you home after your treatment.

We have a dedicated page that your partner, friend or family member can read to find out how to support you.

Supporting someone having an abortion

Arranging travel

It's important to arrange your return travel before you come to your appointment as you won’t be able to drive yourself home if you have had medical abortion treatment or a surgical abortion with sedation or general anaesthetic. We advise against using public transport after your abortion treatment.

We strongly recommend that you bring someone with you to your treatment so they can travel home with you after, and stay with you for the next 24 hours.

For clients traveling from overseas, we know you will have travelled some way to get to your appointment. You will want to return home as soon as you can, but we strongly recommend you stay overnight locally with friends or family if possible.

By contacting us ahead of travelling we can answer any questions you might have on treatment options, prices, travel, how long you should stay in England, and if you should be accompanied on your trip. Call us on 0345 300 8090 to speak with one of our advisors.

Travelling from Ireland

What to bring

We’ll ask you to bring the following things with you to your appointment:

  • Any medication you’re taking (including inhalers).
  • Any information you have from your doctor about any medical conditions.
  • Your referral letter from your doctor or family planning clinic, if you have one.
  • Any notes from a previous consultation.
  • An extra pair of comfortable underwear.
  • Sanitary pads suitable for a heavy flow.
  • Your glasses and contact lens kit if you wear contact lenses. You may need to remove your contact lenses before your treatment.
  • Your payment method, if you’re paying for your abortion.

Looking for more information about abortion services?

You’ll find answers to the questions people ask most about abortions here. If you can’t find the information you need, please call us on 0345 300 8090.

Eating and drinking

Fasting guidelines

There are fasting guidelines for each abortion treatment that are very important to follow.

This is for your safety, and your appointment may need to be moved to another day if you don’t follow the guidelines.

If you have any questions before your appointment about these fasting guidelines, or anything else, please call us on 0345 300 8090. 

For a medical abortion

  • 24 hours before appointment - do not drink alcohol
  • 48 hours after treatment - do not drink alcohol until 48 hours after treatment

For a surgical abortion without anaesthetic

  • 24 hours before appointment - do not drink alcohol
  • 48 hours after treatment - do not drink alcohol until 48 hours after treatment

For a surgical abortion with anaesthetic

For your safety, it's very important that your stomach is empty before you have a procedure under general anaesthetic or sedation.

  • 24 hours before appointment - do not drink alcohol
  • 6 hours before treatment - stop eating (you must not eat anything for at least 6 hours prior to your appointment. You can drink clear liquids such as water)
  • 2 hours before treatment - stop drinking (you can drink clear liquids, such as water, only up to 2 hours before your treatment)
  • 48 hours after treatment - do not drink alcohol until 48 hours after treatment

Please avoid heavy meals as they may not have passed through your stomach in time for your appointment.

You can chew gum and suck boiled sweets up to when you get called through for your procedure.

Anything you drink before your procedure should be a clear liquid, such as water or clear apple juice. Please do not drink milk or anything milk-based.

You will be able to eat and drink as normal after your treatment.

Arranging childcare and breastfeeding

Unfortunately you won’t be able bring any children into the clinic with you.

This is so we can be as sensitive as possible to others who may be in the waiting areas. For this reason we do not have any facilities for children in our clinics. Please arrange childcare if you can, as your appointment will take a number of hours.

If you're breastfeeding

Small traces of the medication from a medical or surgical abortion could pass into the breast milk. If you have a surgical abortion with an anaesthetic, in most cases it is fine to breastfeed after you have recovered. If you have a medical abortion, after taking the 2nd set of tablets (misoprostol) we recommend that you wait for 5 hours before breastfeeding. Please let us know if you are breastfeeding and would like further support and advice.

Making the right choice for you

Before deciding whether to go ahead with an abortion, it can help to be as informed as possible. Below are some useful links to information about abortion with Marie Stopes UK.

Counselling

We provide abortion counselling face-to-face or over the phone for anyone who would like to talk through their decision before, or after, their treatment.

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Advice for partners

If you’re a partner, friend or family member of someone having an abortion, here’s some advice on how you can support them.

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A guide to costs

More than 95% of our clients have their abortion funded by the NHS. You can also pay to have one privately if you prefer, or if you’re not eligible for NHS funding.

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