Healing, Empowering and Restorative Therapy

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You’re not alone. Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common birth defect and can affect the structure of your baby’s heart and how it works. In Heart2HEART, we are studying whether a prenatal maternal Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) intervention helps to improve maternal and infant outcomes for pregnant women carrying fetuses diagnosed with CHD. Our team is here to help moms reduce the anxiety, depression and stress they feel during pregnancy and after giving birth. Our evidence-based intervention supports moms from the time they receive the CHD diagnosis and soon after they give birth. This important study also offers peer support from moms who have personal experience with a CHD journey.

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Contact us to join the Heart2HEART study
+1 202.476.3842

  • Evidence-based interventions support moms from the time of CHD diagnosis and continue weeks after they give birth


Heart2HEART Healing, Empowering and Restorative Therapy is recruiting pregnant women who receive a confirmed fetal CHD diagnosis that will require open heart surgery after their baby is born. Our research aims to understand these women’s unique experiences and mental health concerns and will provide information about the impact of prenatal CBT on future moms’ psychological anxiety, depression and stress. The Heart2HEART study includes one group and six individual counseling sessions, all conducted virtually with a licensed psychologist. Our goal is to empower moms-to-be through self-care strategies, mindfulness lessons and narrative activities to improve mood. To date, we are aware of no evidence-based intervention for moms carrying fetuses diagnosed with CHD in a pediatric setting.


Who can participate
Pregnant women with a CHD diagnosis (confirmed by fetal echocardiography) that will require open heart surgery after their child’s birth who screen positive/high for stress, depression or anxiety. Pregnant study participants will be at least 18 weeks and no more than 32 weeks gestation.
Who may not participate
  • Fetuses with known or suspected congenital infection, dysmorphic features or dysgenetic lesions, or documented genetic or chromosomal abnormalities

  • Women with chronic or pregnancy-induced medical conditions

  • Pregnant women taking medicines for chronic conditions

  • Pregnant women who develop pregnancy-related complications after study enrollment

  • Women expected to give birth to more than one child

  • Women who self-report drug abuse, tobacco or alcohol use

  • Women unable to enter an MRI

  • Women already receiving stress-management therapy
What should I expect?
  • You will complete questionnaires remotely to describe mood, overall health and to measure psychological stress. 

  • We will ask you to provide a small sample of your saliva to measure stress hormones.

  • You will be randomly assigned to participate in a CBT intervention or to continue receiving usual care. If you are randomized to receive the CBT intervention, you will complete virtual counseling sessions guided by a licensed psychologist before and after your baby is born.

  • During these sessions, you will learn how to better manage stress and feel more balanced by learning how to change the way you understand and respond to potential stressors and leverage support from your circle of friends, family and caregivers.

  • Before your baby is born, you will have the option to meet us in person to take special pictures (or scans) of your baby using safe, non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging.

  • After your baby is born, we will follow up with you and your baby. You will complete questionnaires remotely 6 weeks, 3 months, 12 months and 18 months after giving birth.

  • Read the Flyer
Will I be paid?
  • You will receive free parking and a cafeteria voucher during your study-related visits to Children's National for the maternal CBT intervention

  • $75 compensation for each fetal MRI during Phase II of the research project

  • $25 compensation for completing remote questionnaires before and after your baby’s birth

  • MRI pictures of your baby