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Mended Little HeartGuide

Diagnosis 3 In The Things You May Be Feeling After a Prenatal Diagnosis Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects in the U.S. About 1 in every 110 babies will be diagnosed with one or more heart defects, but nothing can prepare expectant parents for hearing that there is something wrong with their baby’s heart. If the child will need surgery or other medical procedures either before birth or soon after, the news becomes even scarier. The diagnosis of a heart problem will bring questions, concerns and many complicated feelings. Some of these feelings — grief, anger, fear, guilt and confusion — are described in detail in the Things You May Be Feeling section of this Mended Little HeartGuide. There, you’ll also find helpful tips for coping with these emotions. In this section, we will address issues that are unique to parents who are coping with a prenatal diagnosis. Lack of “Normal” Pregnancy Feelings Pregnancy is usually a time of excitement and joyful expectation, but after your unborn child has been diagnosed with a heart problem, you may feel less — or even none — of the enthusiasm and positive emotions typically associated with pregnancy. You might even find yourself trying not to get too attached to a child who may not survive. It’s not uncommon for expectant mothers of children with CHD to refuse to have a baby shower because they can’t bear the thought of having gifts for a baby who might not come home. When the pregnancy becomes visible, they may feel fear and sadness when people ask about the baby rather than joy. It can be difficult to shake these feelings. Bear in mind that most babies with CHD do well and go home to their families. Many babies with severe heart problems end up going home and doing “normal” baby things. Avoiding the fun and joy of expecting a child will not make it less painful if the worst does happen, so as much as possible, enjoy the pregnancy as you would if you were having a baby without a heart problem. When you begin to feel fear or sadness, remind yourself that Mended Little Hearts is full of kids, teens and even adults with CHD who are living happy and healthy lives. Guilt Most parents feel guilty when their unborn child is diagnosed with a heart problem. There are many reasons for this guilt, including the idea that they may have done something to cause their child’s CHD, and several of those reasons are described in the Things You May Be Feeling section of this Guide. 1 General Information 2 Prenatal Hospital 4 Living With CHD 5 Forms 37


Mended Little HeartGuide
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