Finding out that your child needs to be admitted to hospital for surgery or something else, can feel extremely daunting.

As a mum of four, I have experienced being the parent of a child needing surgery, multiple times now. What I have learned is that it is best to be as prepared as possible in the lead up.

The first step in this preparation is of course explaining to your child what is going to happen to them once they arrive at the hospital. Going into a huge amount of detail can be overwhelming for little people, so it’s best to stick to the basic facts.

  • Mummy/Daddy will be with you the whole time.
  • You will be having a big sleep and when you wake up your operation will be finished.
  • You will be safe.
  • You might feel a bit sore when you wake up but the doctors and nurses will be ready to give you medicine.

It can help to bring along your child’s favourite comfort toy, a pillow and their pyjamas. If you are staying the night as well, bring along a change of clothes for yourself, your toiletries and some pyjamas. A couple of books or an iPad can also be useful.

Once you are settled in on the ward and in your room a nurse will go over the hospital paperwork with you and place an ID bracelet on your child’s wrist.

Before heading into surgery, your child’s doctor will most likely pop in to have a quick chat with you to discuss what is expected during surgery and later in recovery.

One parent is allowed to accompany the child to theatre and stay with them while they are placed under sedation. Keeping as calm as possible, which can of course be hard under the circumstances, is best for your child, as they can then drift off to sleep peacefully.

While your child’s surgery is taking place, you are welcome to make use of the parent’s kitchen on the ward, or head into the hospital’s cafe for a bite to eat. It’s a good time to recharge your batteries as the day can be emotionally trying and it’s really important that you look after yourself too.

The recovery department will call you as soon as your child is out of surgery and beginning to wake up. You will then be able to sit with them while they come out of sedation. Some children wake up quite easily while others can get a bit of a fright. Nurses will be on hand to help you with whatever you need to calm your little one down.

Once you’re all back on the ward, and your child is comfortable and has had something to eat and drink, they might like to head into the children’s retreat zone to check out the amazing fish tank, toys and books on offer.

The staff at Epworth are always ready and willing to help you through this time. Please don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it, and good luck with your child’s impending surgery.

08 February 2019

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