1. Beal, Judy A. DNSc, PNP, RN
  2. Freda, Margaret Comerford EdD, RN, CHES, FAAN

Article Content

Kidner, M. C., Flanders-Stepans, M. B. (2004).Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, 33 (1), 44-53.


A few years ago, one of my relatives developed HELLP syndrome at 29 weeks gestation, and quickly became seriously ill. In all my years of nursing practice, I had never seen anyone become so ill quite so rapidly; it was frightening indeed. I've been particularly interested in HELLP syndrome ever since. These researchers wanted to know how the affected women would describe HELLP in order to develop more information for nurses to influence nursing practice. They interviewed women and described the essential structure of the experience. The basic structure for how women stated that they experienced HELLP was described as "A Circle of No Control and Not Knowing." Subthemes were Premonition, Symptoms, Betrayal, Whirlwind, and Loss.


The authors stated that the interviews were "highly emotional, as mothers shared their stories of survival, feelings, and experiences involving HELLP." All the women stated that they knew something was wrong before their diagnosis, felt they were disbelieved and deceived, many stated that their concerns were dismissed by their healthcare providers. They had a sense of being betrayed by their healthcare providers. One woman shared her story of a labor nurse who argued with her about her symptoms, even stating that her symptoms were self-developed. The women also felt betrayed by their own bodies, which had stopped protecting their pregnancies. However, the most prevalent feeling was loss: loss of maternal joy, loss of a fullterm birth, and loss of future children, for many of these women would never attempt pregnancy again. There are so many reasons for nurses to read this entire article, only one of which is to enhance their knowledge about HELLP. The wonderful stories from the mothers about what they experienced can do much to inform our practice of nursing with pregnant women. I urge you to read it.


Comment by Margaret Comerford Freda