The impact of prenatal counselling on mothers of surviving children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome: A qualitative interview study

Sophie Bertaud*, David F.A. Lloyd, Gurleen Sharland, Reza Razavi, Myra Bluebond-Langner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To explore the role of antenatal counselling in how parents make treatment decisions following an antenatal diagnosis of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). Background: Antenatal counselling is a critical part of patient management following a diagnosis of fetal congenital heart disease; however, there is a very limited evidence base examining how parents actually experience antenatal counselling and make decisions in this context. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with women who had received an antenatal diagnosis of HLHS. Interviews were digitally recorded, anonymised and transcribed verbatim. A thematic content analysis was performed using a constant comparative approach. Results: Eight mothers of surviving children with HLHS were interviewed. Eight key themes emerged including new perspectives on how women receive antenatal counselling and how it affects their decision making. Three themes in particular are new to the literature: (a) Mothers of children with HLHS reported feelings of intense guilt that arose in the antenatal period around potentially causing the condition in their child. (b) For this group of women, recollections of perceived pessimism during antenatal counselling had a lasting impact. (c) Despite support from partners or extended family, women nevertheless experienced a strong sense that antenatal decision making was largely a ‘maternal’ responsibility. Conclusions: When recounting their experiences of antenatal counselling, mothers of surviving children with HLHS offer new perspectives that can guide fetal cardiologists in how best to support their individual patients. Further research is needed to comprehensively understand the experience of prospective parents counselled for severe forms of fetal congenital heart disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1224-1230
Number of pages7
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • counselling
  • decision making
  • hypoplastic left heart syndrome
  • prenatal diagnosis


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