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Hilot, pronounced HEE-lot, is a Filipino style of relaxation massage. Although hilot is mostly used to relieve stress, a growing number of women are turning to it to end pregnancy. While hilot doesn't really stop a pregnancy, a very large percentage of pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion anyway.

Before we get too far into this, it will help to set up some definitions:

  • An abortion is just an end to pregnancy before the embryo and then fetus can fully develop.
  • An induced abortion is a pregnancy that is ended by human intervention, either by a doctor, or by some other kind of abortionist, or by the pregnant woman herself.
  • A spontaneous abortion is a pregnancy that ended without intentional activity by anyone.
  • A miscarriage is a pregnancy that ended with visible evidence of the loss of the embryo or fetus. Abortion (either induced or spontaneous) very early in the pregnancy, when the embryo is extremely small, may not leave visible evidence of termination.

You probably know that commercial pregnancy tests don't work e very first day after conception. Your body doesn't produce enough of the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) to show up in most tests until about two weeks after conception. One of the most sensitive pregnancy tests you can buy, First Response, can detect hCG about six days before you will miss your period. At this point, you have been pregnant for about eight days. ClearBlue might detect hCG about five days before you miss your period, when you will have been pregnant for about nine days. (Both of these tests and others can also miss a pregancy.)

Scientists can test for even smaller amounts of hCG that confirm pregnancy even sooner after conception. But when they test, and get positive results for hCG, and retest the same women a few days later, they find that 70 to 90 percent of all pregnancies end in spontaneous abortions during the very first week after conception, while the embryo is still microscopic and its expulsion from the uterus isn't noticed.

These spontaneous, unintentional, unplanned, unassisted, and very common abortions occur because the fertilized egg is unable to implant itself in the lining of the uterus. It cannot grow, and it does not stay in the uterus. You don't have to do anything to make this happen, and there is very little you can do to stop this from happening.

Very-early spontaneous abortion is most likely when:

  • The mother is stressed emotionally or physically.
  • The mother is over 35.
  • The father is over 35.

When the fertilized egg is planted in the womb and starts to grow, it may reach a size that would be noticed as a miscarriage. For women under the age of 35, about 15 percent of pregnancies result in miscarriage. For women over 42, about 50 percent of pregnancies result in miscarriage. Again, these involuntary terminations of pregnancy happen no matter what you do. But can you help the process along with massage?

You can't "massage" a pregnancy away. 

And when Filipino women talk about hilot to end a pregnancy, they aren't referring to something that women in other parts of the world would recognize as massage.

In the Philippines, abortion is illegal and unavailable, so women try many desperate measures to end pregnancies, inserting items in the vagina, taking herbs, and getting hilot. When researchers have asked women in the Philippines about hilot, they almost always get the answer that their respondents know someone who has had hilot and it worked for them. They assume that they must have found a manghihilot (hilot practitioner) who was strong enough to crush the baby and they just haven't found one who had that much strength.

But abdominal massage won't crush the baby because it is, in early pregnancy, part of the uterine lining, and the muscles around the uterus take the pressure instead of the embryo itself, or the fertilized egg was never implanted in the uterus and the pregnancy is going to end on its own.

In the Philippines, every year about 500,000 women are hospitalized for complications after trying to induce abortion. Hilot just won't work. I am sorry I do not have any other recommendations for a legal and safe answer for you, but do not try to rub your baby away.

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