In her thirties, Lindsey Guilmette was happily married and working as a researcher in the health sector, when she and her husband decided to take the next step and have a baby. That’s when Yale Medicine’s Adult Congenital Cardiology Program came into play.
Robert Elder, MD, director of the Adult Congenital Cardiology Program of the Pediatric Cardiology Program at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital (YNHCH), says that a life event such as having a baby can – and should – bring these patients to his office for careful planning and management.
Guilmette, who had not seen a cardiologist for years, decided to consult a cardiologist. “I was nervous, says Guilmette. “There are unknowns that people who haven’t had these issues don’t have to think about. I always wondered, ‘How will my body handle it all?’ »
Doctors told her that the pulmonary valve she treated as a child was leaking badly and needed to be replaced with an artificial valve before she could safely manage a pregnancy. So, in 2017, she underwent a second heart operation. She recovered within a few weeks, then started thinking about the pregnancy again.
Guilmette’s doctors were encouraging. “It’s very different from what it was. It’s very rare that we advise a woman with congenital heart disease not to at least try to get pregnant,” says program specialist John Fahey, MD, adding that with the proper support, most women with a history of congenital heart defects are able to have a successful pregnancy.”But a congenital cardiologist will be aware of several issues,” he adds. puts a volume load on your heart because in the last trimester the amount of blood the mother’s heart has to pump increases by about 30%. Delivery is also stressful. To get a baby out, your blood flow has to increase by more than 50%. Women should also consult their doctor about medications such as blood thinners, which can damage the fetus, he says.
Dr. Elder and a team of maternal-fetal medicine specialists supported Guilmette throughout her pregnancy. She gave birth to a daughter, Riley, by caesarean section, with cardiologists present in the operating room.
“I was so relieved. It was like a miracle,” Guilmette says.