Open Arms Blog

What To Expect During An Abortion

Getting an abortion can be a difficult decision for many people, and it's not one that anyone makes lightly. There are a lot of unknowns, and that can make the whole experience feel more overwhelming, especially if you can't find answers you're looking for prior to the procedure.

Today, we want to help you understand what you can expect during an abortion. The more you know beforehand, the better able you will be to make a truly informed decision. There are a few different abortion procedures, all of which we'll cover here.

1. Medication Abortions

Medication abortions are abortions you have by taking a series of two pills, mifepristone and misopristol. These are prescribed by a doctor, and are commonly referred to as "the abortion pill" even though you take two pills.

Mifepristone is the pill you take first, usually at the doctor's office. This pill blocks your body's progesterone, causing the pregnancy to stop growing (fetal demise).

Misoprostol is the second pill, and can either be taken immediately after or up to 48 hours after taking the first pill. This will cause your cervix to expand so you can pass the pregnancy.

What to expect physically

Most women experience mild to heavy cramping and bleeding during and up to two weeks after the abortion. It's also common to feel nauseous and to vomit.

What to expect emotionally

Every person is different, and the emotions you feel are yours and are valid. Emotions are a gauge to let us know how we're doing, and every person's experience with abortion is different. Some feel relief, while others experience emotional pain. It's okay if you feel sadness, grief, or regret. Regardless of your emotional state, make sure you aren't walking this road in isolation. The Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic offers an after-abortion support group to provide a safe place to process whatever you're feeling so you aren't doing that alone.

Recovery afterwards

The recovery time can vary between women, depending on how long the cramping, bleeding, and nausea all last. If your symptoms last longer than two weeks, you should consult your doctor. Let him or her know you had a medication abortion and exactly what your symptoms have been.

2. Surgical Abortions

Surgical abortions generally happen if the pregnancy is over 10 weeks, and there are different procedures based on how far along you are. For all, you'll be given a pain medication to numb the cervix area.

Aspiration abortion involves dilating the cervix with absorbent rods that may be put in a few days prior to the procedure. Once dilated enough, a long tube connected to a suction device will be inserted into the uterus to suction out the pregnancy.

Some common side effects to aspiration abortion are sweating, nausea, feeling faint, and cramping. Some women also experience bleeding, blood clots, damage to the cervix, and a perforation of the uterus.

D&E abortion stands for dilation and evacuation. This procedure is performed after 16 weeks and involves dilating the cervix in a method similar to the aspiration abortion. A shot is sometimes given before the procedure begins to ensure fetal demise. A long tube will then be inserted into the uterus to pull out the pregnancy; forceps are sometimes also necessary to remove large parts. Then the lining of your uterus is scraped to ensure all has been removed. This procedure usually takes 15-30 minutes and an antibiotic will likely be prescribed to prevent infection.

Common side effects are cramping, bleeding, and nausea for up to two weeks. And although more rare, these side effects are sometimes experienced by women: a perforated uterus, damage to the lining of the uterus, damage to the cervix, blood clots, and infection. If your symptoms last longer than two weeks, you should contact your doctor immediately.

It's common to feel a mixture of emotions after your abortion procedure - relief, sadness, grief, and regret are all possible. Your body went through a surgery so it's important to take the time necessary to heal. It can also be a good idea to seek counseling to help process the big emotions you feel, or if you aren't feeling anything at all.

The most important thing is to acknowledge to yourself the truth about how you're feeling. Anything you feel is legitimate and is worth exploring and seeking help if it feels too overwhelming to tackle yourself. Make sure you're getting enough rest and taking care of yourself in other ways as well.

If you need someone to talk to before or after your abortion, the caring and professional staff of the Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic is always available to sit and listen and help unpack how you're feeling. We can help you come up with next action steps if that's helpful. We're here for you!

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Can I Buy the Abortion Pill Online?

If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, you may be considering abortion. In a world that has gone completely digital, it may seem convenient and discrete to order the abortion pill online. However, purchasing the abortion pill online is never a good idea. 

While it may seem like a way to avoid others finding out, it is simply not safe. Read more about the dangers of purchasing the abortion pill online.

Abortion is a Medical Procedure

While taking a pill may not seem like something you need to do under the supervision of a doctor, the abortion pill is far different than an over-the-counter pill. It requires both instructions from a doctor before taking it and a follow-up appointment afterward. The abortion pill is still an abortion. It comes with risk and possible complications like any other medical procedure. You should not be attempting a medical procedure without a medical professional. 

You Have No Way of Knowing What is in the Pill

Any abortion pill that you find online comes with some degree of risk since you cannot be certain about what is in it. Online abortion pills sometimes come from another country with less strict safety regulations. There is also the possibility that the drug has too much or too little of a specific ingredient, which could lead to unexpected and harmful complications. Some of these side effects can potentially have negative impacts on your long-term health.

Additionally, when you are purchasing online, you don't know where this pill is coming from. You have no way of knowing if the pill will actually terminate the pregnancy. Even worse, there is a possibility that the pill you purchase could contain harmful ingredients that could cause you harm. 

The Abortion Pill is not Regulated by the FDA

The United States Food and Drug Administration has been seeking to stop unapproved online sellers of abortion pills. The FDA issued a warning letter to one particular provider demanding that they immediately cease sales of unapproved abortion drugs. Despite attempts from the FDA, providers online continue to sell unapproved abortion drugs to vulnerable women. We advise you to be aware of the providers who sell these potentially dangerous drugs. In fact, you should avoid them altogether since the risk of harm is too high – it is simply not worth the risk.

Discuss the Procedure with a Medical Professional

There is a lot that can happen when you take the abortion pill, so it's very important to be fully informed about the process. Not only Is it important to understand what is normal, it's also important to understand possible complications to look out for.

Depending on your medical history and how far along your pregnancy is, it could be ineffective or even dangerous to take the abortion pill.  At Open Arms, we offer ultrasounds at no cost to you. Ultrasounds allow you to find out how far along you are, if you're within the first ten weeks, and if your pregnancy is even viable. All of these factors need to be considered before making the decision to have an abortion.

You are Entitled to Quality Care

You deserve safe and effective care. At Open Arms, we offer quality pregnancy care at no cost to you. We provide free pregnancy testing as well as consultation through your unplanned pregnancy. You do not need to handle this all by yourself. Let medical professionals guide you and support you along the way. 

If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, you might not know where to turn next. At Open Arms, we are here to support you. Whether you are in need of our pregnancy services or options consultation, all of our services are 100 percent free and confidential. Reach out today if you are in search of support for your unplanned pregnancy. 

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Early Signs of Pregnancy

If you have recently had unprotected sex or have reason to believe you may be pregnant, you might be panicking. We are here to tell you to take a deep breath. While we always recommend taking a pregnancy test to be sure, here are some of the common early signs of pregnancy to look for to give you a better idea if you are pregnant. 

1. Missed Period

This is the most widely known signs of pregnancy, but it can also be the most unreliable. A woman's cycle can be affected by many things. Things like stress, sickness, or even travel can cause a period to be late or even skipped. If your period is late, don't jump to conclusions. 

2. Nausea or Vomiting

You have probably heard of morning sickness, and that is because many women experience nausea and vomiting during the first trimester. This has to do with the changes in hormones in your body and usually subsides once your body adjusts to your new levels. 

3. Spotting and Cramping

Some women experience implantation bleeding six to 12 days after the egg is fertilized. It is common for women to mistake this for their period, so if you have reason to believe that you may be pregnant and you are experiencing other pregnancy symptoms, but you haven't missed a period, consider taking a pregnancy test to be sure. 

4. Mood Swings

Hormone shifts cause your mood to shift. Similar to how your mood changes throughout puberty and your menstrual cycle, mood swings are common in the early stages of pregnancy. If you are experiencing mood swings along with other signs of pregnancy, consider taking a pregnancy test. 

5. Fatigue

If you are excessively tired compared to your rest or activity level, it may be a sign you are pregnant. During the first trimester, many women report feeling extreme tiredness. If you are feeling more exhausted than you feel like you should, you may be pregnant. 

It is important to note that every woman experiences every pregnancy differently. In your pregnancy, you may have some, none, or all of these symptoms. 

If you think you might be pregnant, we offer free and confidential pregnancy testing to women in our community every day. If you think you may be unexpectedly pregnant, make an appointment at Open Arms today! 


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One morning, I woke up feeling nauseous. I felt pregnant, but I was not sure if I should trust the two faint lines on the home pregnancy test that I took; I had a lot of medical questions.

The Morning After Pill and The Abortion Pill

What Every Woman Should Read       

"One morning, I woke up feeling nauseous. I felt pregnant, but I was not sure if I should trust the two faint lines on the home pregnancy test that I took; I had a lot of medical questions."

I took the morning after pill during the week that I had unprotected sex, so I thought I was safe. I felt pregnant, but I was not sure if I should trust the two faint lines on the home pregnancy test that I took. I sat in shock, alone in my bathroom, my thoughts racing all over the place.

"Did it still work even though I didn't take it the morning after?"

With a quick Google search I was able to find a great deal of information online, but that only led me to ask more questions that were more unique to what I was experiencing.

Of course, first I wanted to know if I was pregnant. I was concerned that the morning after pill did not work for me. How effective is it? Did I take it correctly?

"What is the difference between the morning after pill and the abortion pill?"

I really did not want to involve any friends or family at that moment, but I did find Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic and they made me feel safe and supported.

"The case manager and nurse were able to answer my questions. During my appointment I was educated on pregnancy and so much more."

I learned how the morning after pill works depending on where I am at in my menstrual cycle. The morning after pill could not guarantee that I wouldn't get pregnant and I could experience possible short-term side effects when taking it. 

The morning after pill and the abortion pill are different but neither pill prevents sexually transmitted diseases. I learned that the abortion pill does not work if a pregnancy is ectopic (meaning if the pregnancy is outside of the uterus) and what signs to look for in case I needed to seek emergency care.

They really took the time at Open Arms to listen and provide me with accurate pregnancy testing and same day results. I felt so much better having someone to come alongside me and to gain the understanding of what was going on with my body, it was truly a freeing experience.

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Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic can help you know if you are pregnant and, if so, consider your next step.  All services are confidential and provided at no cost. This can be an uncertain time in your life.  We get it.  The Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic specializes in helping women and men facing unintended pregnancy. We have helped talk through questions and evaluate options with thousands of people just like you -- and we have a 99.3% satisfaction rating. We can help you, too.

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Pregnancy and Mood Swings: Surviving the Rough Patches

"I remember the day I got irritated over something extremely trivial. Just moments before, I was hopeful and excited about my pregnancy, the thought of being a mom and someday meeting my new baby."

My mood swings can be so unpredictable, complete with crying spells, but it's not an excuse to lash out and break dishes.

Pregnancy can also be a joyful life event with friends and family celebrating us, with sweet moments to savor.  When I laugh, I can laugh hysterically. I can even laugh at myself, like when I'm in the middle of a conversation and I'm fishing for common everyday words that I can't remember. Or I love this one, when I place the egg carton in the freezer and find it later when I'm going in for my absolute favorite: Chocolate malted crunch ice cream. Well, thankfully, I found some strategies to manage stress and emotional eating.  

The Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic and their amazing Pregnancy and Parenting Program provides the education on pregnancy and life skills that will prepare you for this beautiful journey of becoming a mom. I'm so glad there is support for moms like me who desire more in-depth training.  Training that goes beyond the short period of time that our prenatal doctors have to spend with us during our check-ups. Open Arms provides a variety of classes for all stages of pregnancy up through your first year of parenting.

"What you do here is life changing for women and moms-to be-! You provide peace of mind to confused and helpless people like me. I now have a very healthy boy close to 2 months old today. We are so appreciative that Open Arms truly opened their arms to us when no one would help us back then. As first time-parents, we can't thank you enough! You make a difference in this world!" 

I learned that hormones are not my enemy after all.  They actually regulate different functions in my body which play vital roles in maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

Exercise is my friend, a mood lifter for my pregnant body and mind, and I learned to relax and enjoy the journey because this emotional rough patch won't last always.


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There are many things to consider when making a pregnancy decision, including understanding all of your options. If you aren't sure you are prepared to be a parent, have you considered providing parents for your baby? Here are five commonly asked questions expectant mothers ask about adoption with answers and resources that can empower you to make a decision for both you and your child.

5 Questions Expectant Mothers Ask About Adoption

There are many things to consider when making a pregnancy decision, including understanding all of your options. If you aren't sure you are prepared to be a parent, have you considered providing parents for your baby? Here are five commonly asked questions expectant mothers ask about adoption with answers and resources that can empower you to make a decision for both you and your child.

  1. How could I ever give up my baby for adoption?
    Adoption is not giving up your child—it is giving to your child the life you truly want for him or for her. If you are not ready to be a parent and are not able to provide the kind of life you would want for your baby, you can still provide for him or her through adoption.
  2. Can I choose the family for my baby?
    Yes! You can pick a family for your child and create a plan that has your child's best interests at heart. Most adoption agencies have many prospective adoptive couples, all of which must meet standards set by the agency and the state where they live. Families are thoroughly assessed before being approved for adoption and are visited by an adoption specialist after placement to ensure that your child will be well taken care of.
  3. How much contact will I have with my baby after the birth and after adoption?

    After the birth, you can spend as much time with your baby at the hospital as you choose. When making your adoption plan, you can decide how much contact you want to have with your child. There are three types of adoption to consider: open adoption, semi-open adoption, and confidential adoption.

    Open adoption is the option that allows you to get to know the adoptive parents and have ongoing direct contact with them. With this option, you may receive phone calls, pictures, letters, and schedule visits with your baby and his or her adoptive family.

    Semi-open adoption is the option that allows you to choose the parents for your baby, but identifying information is not exchanged. You may receive letters and pictures from your baby's adoptive family through the agency you choose to plan with.

    Confidential adoption is the option that protects your identity before, during, and after the adoption is complete. This is an option for you if you would like to remain completely anonymous.
  4. Can I get help with medical and living expenses while I'm making an adoption plan?

    Assistance with pregnancy-related expenses is available through many adoption agencies so that there is no expense to you for creating an adoption plan.
  5. How can I be sure my baby will end up in a good home?
    Adoptive parents are closely screened and evaluated through a lengthy process before being eligible to adopt a child. The adoption type you choose determines how much information you will receive about the potential family for your baby, and how involved you will be in your child's life. (For example, if you choose an adoption plan with some openness, you can get to know the couple more before making your final decision.) Remember, you remain in control throughout the adoption process.

Interested to learn more? Here are some next steps:

  1. Visit some other helpful websites to help you feel knowledgeable and confident in discerning whether adoption is the best option for you:
  2. Connect with an adoption agency in your area. Local adoption agencies will be able to answer specific questions you may have and provide the support you will need to make a successful plan for you and your baby. You can find an adoption agency  near you by visiting
  3. Visit us! Open Arms is always here for you to talk about your options. If you would like to come in to meet with one of our case managers to discuss what to do next in a comfortable and confidential setting, please feel free to call or text us as 818-626-9400. We would love to meet with you.



"10 Questions Expectant Mothers Ask About Adoption." Pregnant, Now What? Discussion Guide, 2014, pp. 14–14.

Julie Stobbe. I Might Consider Adoption If...I Might Consider Adoption If..., Focus on the Family, 2012.

Bethany. Ten Questions Expectant Mothers Ask About Adoption. Ten Questions Expectant Mothers Ask About Adoption, Bethany, 2015.

"What About Adoption?" Before You Decide, Care Net, 2016, pp. 28–31.

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It's late, where is it? It is normal to initially feel shock or other emotions all in the same moments. Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic is a safe place to talk about all of your emotions and your decisions when facing an unplanned pregnancy, you are not alone. No worries, no insurance needed. We offer free quality medical grade urine pregnancy testing and more. To be sure, take your first step by making an appointment with us.

3 Pregnancy Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore- How to be Sure?

Missed your period?

It's late, where is it? It is normal to initially feel shock or other emotions all in the same moments. Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic is a safe place to talk about all of your emotions and your decisions when facing an unplanned pregnancy, you are not alone. No worries, no insurance needed. We offer free quality medical grade urine pregnancy testing and more. To be sure, take your first step by making an appointment with us.

As one of our clients shared:

"I was nervous about coming but seeing how loving and how literally we were welcomed with open arms, I will definitely recommend to whoever is in this situation."

Food Cravings?

Pregnancy can often trigger food cravings. I wasn't actively trying but I got pregnant. Before I got pregnancy testing to be sure, one symptom that was screaming at me was this strong desire I had. It was past 10:00 at night and I was in search of french fries with ranch dressing. "Please don't skimp on the ranch Mr. Waiter, bring it!"  It was all I could think about. You may also experience food aversions which basically means that certain food could totally gross you out too, even foods that you normally would like.


So many thoughts and questions are running through your mind regarding pregnancy and women's health. If you don't have the physical or mental energy to face them on your own right now, our services are provided with confidential care. Bring your questions and your immediate concerns, our professional case managers and medical staff work in detail with you to ensure that you are fully informed.

So, if you are experiencing these symptoms and suspect that you may be pregnant, don't ignore them. We can help you be sure.

 "With our holistic approach, we care for your whole person and we value your choosing us. Schedule your appointment today." OAPC Staff

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We offer free pregnancy testing and confirmation along with a written proof of pregnancy that will help you during the process of obtaining health insurance. We also offer referrals to prenatal providers as well as other free services for you and your partner.

Pregnant With No Health Insurance?

We can help you.

We offer free pregnancy testing and confirmation along with a written proof of pregnancy that will help you during the process of obtaining health insurance. We also offer referrals to prenatal providers as well as other free services for you and your partner.

Did you know...

  • Medi-Cal coverage is free insurance offered year-round. Check the income guidelines to see if you qualify to apply.
  • Presumptive Eligibility for pregnant women is designed to provide immediate, temporary coverage for prenatal care to low income pregnant women pending a formal Medi-Cal application and approval.
  • If you do not qualify for Medi-Cal you may qualify for MCAP or Covered California health plans.  There may be immediate coverage options for you!
  • Even though open enrollment for 2018 through Covered California is now closed, there are special circumstances that may allow you to enroll. For more information visit:
  • Some hospitals offer payment plans for those whose income is too high to qualify for free insurance or may have low-income health plans available for you

What to do: Some practical advice

  • Check your employer benefits (if any)
  • You can apply for Medi-Cal at your local DPSS office
  • Research a medical discount plan or call hospitals to see if they provide payment plans.
  • The Child and Family Guidance Center offers free enrollment assistance for everyone visit:

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You may be eligible for paid leave during your pregnancy and following birth. We get asked about this often, and you may be wondering as well.

Pregnancy and Paid Family Leave

One of the common questions we ask our working clients is whether or not they have any concerns about their current job and their potential pregnancy. We ask this question because we know that potential parents are often wondering how a pregnancy will impact their lives financially and vocationally. We want our clients to know that there are resources that can help them navigate through this new season in their lives. One resource to consider is the State of California Employment Development Department's Paid Family Leave.

Did you know that as a pregnant or new mom, the State of California Employment Development Department states that you can receive up to four weeks of Disability Insurance (DI) benefits for a normal pregnancy before your expected due date?  In addition, you can also receive up to six weeks or eight weeks of DI benefits after your delivery to recover from childbirth.

To be eligible for California Paid Family Leave benefits, you must:

  • Have welcomed a new child into the family in the past 12 months either through a partner's pregnancy, adoption, or foster care.
  • Have paid into State Disability Insurance (noted as "CASDI" on paystubs) in the past 5 to 18 months.
  • Not have taken the maximum six weeks of PFL in the past 12 months.

Fun fact: You can break up your six weeks of leave. You don't have to take it all at once!

Click here to learn more about eligibility requirements for California Paid Family Leave benefits.
The next step after checking your eligibility is to file a claim. You can file a claim online (the fastest option) or by mail.

For more information about California Paid Family Leave, please visit the State of California Employment Development Department website here.

As always, we are here to help you learn about the resources that are provided to you during this unique time in your life. Please feel free to ask us any questions the next time you come in for your appointment or give us a call at 818-626-9400.


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Wisdom. Strength. Adventure. Protection. And a whole lotta Fun! The Open Arms team shares things our dads taught us and the funny things our dads did that created fond memories and that still bring a smile to our face:

Celebrating the Fathers who raised us up

"My dad is the kind of man who is always there to help anyone who needs him.  He so often sets aside his own comfort and ease to jump in whenever and however he is needed." D.H.

"The day my dad brought home a hula hoop and the day he took me down to San Pedro to ride a boat." S.W.

"My dad would always sing songs and tell me stories at bedtime.  Every night, he would pat my back until I fell asleep." P.C.

 "Dad, you held me in your strong arms and told me that God has something good planned for me." G.N.

"I remember my dad joyfully dropping me off and picking me up from kindergarten every day. It meant so much to look up and see him there to get me." S.L.

"My dad has taught me patience, taught me how to drive, how to love by the way he loved my mom unconditionally. It's impossible to try to think about it all without being overwhelmed with tears." D.E.

"I remember standing on his feet while he danced at the bottom of our stairs and then how I would try to hold on tight while he went on to walk up the stairs with me." A.L.

"My dad emptied his pockets of change every night and when the grandchildren came to visit he'd say, "go get a handful." CP

"I remember watching soccer with my dad on Sunday afternoons. We would sit in the living room to watch soccer and he always made us chicken alfredo to eat for lunch." M.P.

 "My dad took me fishing and he invented different snacks for us to have."  D.R.

 "I remember having hair salon time with dad and having him sit in a chair while I would try to pull out all of his white hairs." A.L.

"Hands down I was 5 years old at the Father daughter dance, I felt so beautiful and so proud." M.O.

 "My dad would spend time talking to me to prepare me to be the man of the house." K.W.

"I have fond memories of my dad bringing my mom and I home some of our favorite Mexican food." S.B.

My dad would ask me "who loves you baby?"  I would say "you do" and he would say "don't ever forget it." S.J.

"One of my favorite memories is making shortbread with my dad. To make the dough come together, it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance – Qualities he modeled and instilled in me." A.M.

"My father forced me to stand on my own two feet and made me a man." MP

"I remember my dad as a loving dad who wanted to provide for his family the best way he could. He often took in odd jobs in addition to his fulltime job so he can give us more than just the basic necessities." C.J.

"Dad, thank you for being a great father to me.  I know you did your best.  You were a great role model for me too. Thank you for caring and being in my life." KS

Thanks for stopping by, be sure to share your memories of your dad in the comments below.

(If you are unexpectedly facing fatherhood and would like some support, we can help.  Click here for information on our services for fathers.)


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