Nanon Labrie contributes to book on the impact of pregnancy complications

This week the book Queen of Hearts was presented nationally on the popular late night talk show Jinek. The book, subtitled ‘the power of vulnerability’, tells the stories of six women and the complications they faced during and after pregnancy. One of those featured is Nanon Labrie, assistant professor and health communication researcher at VU Amsterdam’s Athena Institute.

10/29/2020 | 2:17 PM

Ten percent of pregnant women experience serious complications that put their own life and that of their child at risk. In the Netherlands, no less than 17,000 women are affected each year. If swift and effective action is taken, the pregnancy can end well, but the impact of these complications does not end with childbirth.

Too little is known
Eclampsia, for example, can increase the risk of a stroke or heart attack by up to eight times. In addition, a quarter of women who experience complications suffer psychological setbacks, such as memory problems and lack of concentration. On the emotional side, many begin to doubt their capabilities as a woman, mother and employee, and may experience feelings of guilt towards their children. Too little is known about the full impact on women, which means these problems are often compounded by a lack of understanding from employers and their own support network.  

Increasing awareness
To increase awareness and understanding of how the complications of pregnancy can impact women’s lives, cardiologist in training Chahinda Ghossein-Doha and Janou Boosten-Lamkin, a manager at Rabobank, have highlighted these issues in their newly published book Queen of Hearts. Both women experienced problematic pregnancies. Chahinda Ghossein-Doha lost her daughter Rachelle after eleven days. “Our aim is to inspire and empower other women, to help them believe in themselves by giving them an insight into our struggles and our low points, but also our high points and our recovery. In addition, we want to build awareness and understanding among employers and in the wider community. With the right support, companies will benefit from welcoming a stronger woman back into their organization.” Nanon Labrie confirms that this optimism is well-founded: “This experience has made me a better scientist.” At VU Amsterdam, Nanon carries out research into the communication between doctors and the parents of children who are born prematurely or with health problems. In 2019, this work earned her a prestigious, personal VENI grant worth 250,000 euros from the Dutch Research Council.

The Queen of Hearts programme
Chahinda Ghossein-Doha and her team at MUMC+ are studying every facet of pregnancy complications under the banner of the Queen of Hearts programme. While the central focus of the programme is on reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, Chahinda is also eager to raise public awareness of this theme. With this in mind, the revenue generated by the Queen of Hearts book will go towards research into pregnancy problems. For more information, go to

Queen of Hearts

Photos: Hugo Thomassen