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Mended Little HeartGuide

Introduction Contents SECTION Expectant mothers believe that they should be happy during their pregnancy and may feel shame and guilt when they feel sad or fearful instead. They may dread their baby’s birth because they know that it will not be the experience they had hoped it would be — especially if the baby will need surgery. Pregnant mothers may feel anger or resentment toward the child or situation, which leads to more guilt. They may also worry that their negative emotions are somehow harming their unborn child. These feelings of guilt are very normal, but it is important to try to not let them overcome you. Pay attention to the things you are saying to yourself. Would you say those things to your best friend? Treat yourself with kindness and compassion. You are going through trauma, and you are human. Some negative feelings are expected. When the feelings occur , allow them to pass through you and then focus on what you can do to prepare for the arrival of your baby. Don’t spend time around people who feel sorry for you or who want to dwell on your child’s heart problems. Ask friends and family to think of your baby as healthy and strong and to talk to you about normal baby things rather than about his or her CHD. Fear Fortunately, when you find out about your baby’s heart defect before he or she is born, you will have more time to educate yourself and prepare than a parent who is faced with an unexpected emergency situation after the birth. Unfortunately, the early diagnosis leaves a lot of time for you to develop fear and anxiety about the birth and any upcoming surgeries. After diagnosis, the pregnancy can feel very long and frightening. You may imagine any number of terrifying scenarios; remind yourself that these are only in your imagination. Start envisioning a more positive but realistic outcome instead. Picture your child crawling, walking or even heading to school. About My Child’s Heart Table of The reality is that you can’t predict the future, so try to focus on what you can control. Spend your time preparing and educating yourself. The more you understand what to expect, the more in control you’ll feel. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, get tours of the hospital and talk to other parents who have experienced what you’re going through. Find out what resources are available in your community to help you care for your child. You may want to visit the cardiac unit at your local hospital, but be cautious. On one hand, it may make you feel better by eliminating some of the unknowns and giving you a better idea of what to expect. On the other hand, seeing babies and children in an intensive care setting could frighten or overwhelm you as you begin to visualize your baby in that situation. Disappointment Let’s face it, this birth experience is probably not going to be the one you wanted. Most expectant mothers imagine their labor and birth experience as an exciting and happy time when they will get to meet and bond with the new life they brought into the world. When your child has a heart problem, your labor may need to be induced at a certain time and you may even need to have a cesarean section. You may not be able to do some things you expected to do, like hold your baby and feed him or her after birth. It’s not fair that this happened to you,, and while your experience may not be the one you wanted, the key is finding things you can do to make it as pleasant as possible given the circumstances. To do this, you’ll need to ask a lot of questions at the hospital where you’ll be delivering and where your baby will have surgery. (See the Preparing for Birth section in this guide for some sample questions.) It will also require a lot of support from your friends and family. Go To 38


Mended Little HeartGuide
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