Case studies of the perceptions of women with high risk congenital heart disease successfully completing a pregnancy

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PURPOSE: Women even with moderate to severe congenital heart disease (CHD) seek motherhood despite posing significant health risks to themselves and their infant. This study explored their motivations and perceptions and compared them to those of women with low risk CHD who conceived. PROCEDURES: Twenty women over 18 years with CHD who had a successful pregnancy were recruited, half of whom were identified as having a high risk cardiac abnormality. They completed a questionnaire and a semi-structured interview following which a thematic analysis was employed. Their medical records and clinical status were also reviewed and their current cardiac status graded by their attending cardiologist. FINDINGS: Women with high risk (moderate to severe) CHD (n=10) appeared to have similar motivations for conceiving as women with low-risk (mild) CHD (n=10). Their decision to conceive seemed based on their own and at times unrealistic perceptions of the consequences of their CHD. CONCLUSIONS: Women with mild or more severe CHD had similar motivations to conceive tending to down play the seriousness of their CHD. Their drive for motherhood appeared to be stronger than the drive for self care. It behoves clinicians, both obstetricians and cardiologists caring for women with high risk CHD to be knowledgeable of the effects of the CHD on the pregnancy and the impact of the pregnancy on the cardiac status.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)811 - 817
Number of pages7
JournalHeart Lung and Circulation
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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