Abortion: `It was important to get on with my life as quickly as possible'

Louise Singleton
Tuesday 14 October 1997 23:02

Louise Singleton, 30, is a district nurse who lives in London with her four-year-old daughter. Last week she had an abortion under local anaesthetic at a Marie Stopes day-care centre. She was seven weeks pregnant.

"I remember reading about "lunch-time" abortions in the summer, but never imagined I would be having one a few months later. The decision wasn't difficult to reach because I'm a single mother and having another child would have been financially impossible and personally very difficult.

I wanted the procedure over and done with, but when I approached my GP about the day-care service he told me it wasn't available and that I would have to have a general anaesthetic. Really I had no choice but to go private, but I wouldn't have known about the day patient treatment if I hadn't read about it in the papers.

The initial examination session and the treatment cost me pounds 330, but it was worth it because it meant there was a minimum amount of disruption to my life. I only had to take half a day off work and I was still able to pick my daughter up from school. Of course I was nervous beforehand, because I kept wondering how I was going to cope with the pain. I just had no idea what to expect, but I thought it can't be as bad as giving birth.

The waiting area at the day-care centre reminded me of a beauty salon. There were green leather chairs, a green sofa with pink cushions and lots of plants. All very relaxing and not like being in a hospital at all. After having my blood pressure taken I was given two painkillers and a small dose of valium to calm my nerves. Then everything happened really quickly. I got changed into a night shirt and was taken into a small treatment room just off the waiting area. Even though I had a local anaesthetic I still felt things, it was a bit like having a smear test, but I couldn't actually see anything. The whole thing was over in about five minutes.

The nurse helped me to the waiting area and I lay on the couch for about 20 minutes because I had some crampy pain, like a heavy period. After a while I was able to sit up and have a cup of tea. The nurse said women who've had children often find the process less painful than those who haven't.

I left around an hour and a half after I first arrived. It wasn't easy, but I wasn't traumatised by my experience either. Convenience was really important to me because it meant I was able to get on with my life as quickly as possible."

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