Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery
Vol.26 No.2 2010 (119-124)

Makoto Nishibatake and Masatomo Tokunaga

Department of Pediatrics, Kagoshima Seikyo Hospital, Kagoshima, Japan


Background: Providing psychological support to pregnant women and their families after fetal diagnosis of critical congenital heart disease is essential. However, because of limited time and manpower it is sometimes hard to provide effective counseling that satisfies the patient’s needs.
Methods: We recently arranged opportunities for peer counseling between mothers who had experienced fetal diagnosis of their babies’ heart disease and mothers prior to maternal transport to a distant tertiary center. As the first project, two mothers of a child with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) were paired with two mothers with fetuses diagnosed with HLHS. The second project was group counseling composed of three mothers with children with different kinds of heart disease and two pregnant women with different kinds of fetal heart disease. To evaluate the effects and the problems of peer counseling, each client underwent a post-counseling interview.
Results: Through both procedures the clients were able to obtain useful practical information about the hospital stay, perinatal management and financial support. They could also anticipate what their babies would look like after delivery. Although one-to-one counseling was emotionally heavier for the counselor mothers, group counseling reduced the counselors’ responsibility and provided more information and choices for the clients.
Conclusion: Peer counseling before maternal transport seemed to provide effective emotional support to pregnant women whose fetuses had heart disease. However, we should remember that the counselors have their own children who are under treatment and that there are many problems to be solved.