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Using Reflective Nursing Practice to Improve Care of Women With Congenital Heart Disease Considering Pregnancy

Kilpatrick, Kelley MSc(A), RN; Purden, Margaret PhD, RN

MCN, The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: May-June 2007 - Volume 32 - Issue 3 - p 140–147
doi: 10.1097/01.NMC.0000269561.97239.d8
feature article

This article examines the issue of congenital heart disease (CHD) in women, specifically women who are considering pregnancy. Some of the authors' experiences with women with CHD are described, and a reflective approach to clinical practice is used to gain a greater understanding of the women's perspective. Women with CHD need to balance general lifespan developmental tasks with issues specific to their CHD, such as changes in functional abilities or the possibility of a shortened life expectancy. In women with CHD, physiological, psychological, and family issues need to be considered when they are contemplating pregnancy. As women with CHD move through this debate, nurses may play a key role in assisting them in their decision-making process by exploring issues related to pregnancy and CHD. This exercise in reflective nursing practice allowed us to review the literature, gain new knowledge from our patients, use that knowledge to help other patients, and thoughtfully consider what still needs to be discovered in the care of reproductive-aged women with CHD. The subject of pregnancy contemplation in women with CHD in requires systematic research.

Do you understand reflective nursing practice? When faced with the care of women considering pregnancy who had CHD, these nurses could find no evidence in the literature. They proceeded scientifically, however, to learn all they could about how to care for these women.

Kelley Kilpatrick is a Course Coordinator and Clinical Instructor, School of Nursing, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She can be reached via e-mail at

Margaret Purden is an Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, McGill University, and the Scientific Director, The Centre for Nursing Research, Sir Mortimer B. Davis—Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

The authors of this article have no conflict of interest or financial arrangements with any company or products related to this article.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.