Preparing your child for heart surgery requires open communication and a loving and attentive ear. The idea of having surgery can be a scary time for a child. Helping them get ready is an important part of the process.
What to tell your child about the surgical procedure depends on the child’s age and their emotional maturity. Younger children need fewer details about the procedure. An older child may want more information. Let your child ask questions and be sure your answers are reassuring, simple and truthful. If you’re not sure of the answer, contact your doctor or the nursing staff to help you get the information needed.
Your medical team may have tips that can help you explain heart surgery to a child. In addition, understand that this may bring up emotions in a child. A child may feel anxious or afraid. Be sure not to crush these feelings. Reassure a child that it’s normal to feel fear. Remind them why the surgery is important, and why it is needed.
When talking about the heart surgery, clarify the process by explaining what will happen before, during and after the surgery. You may want to tell a child what to expect about meals before and after the surgery. Explain that your child may be given medicine so he or she will sleep through the procedure. Reassure a child that the medicine will prevent pain.
All the while, let your child know you will be nearby, and that you will be in the hospital room when after the procedure. You can explain that after surgery, patients sometimes feel sore or sleepy, but that doctors and nurses will be taking extra care to make sure they don’t have any pain.
Bringing familiar items from home to the hospital will help a child feel more relaxed. Whether it’s a favorite stuffed animal, toy or blanket, it’s OK to bring these comforting items.
Your cardiac care team will provide additional instructions about the specifics of your child’s condition and procedure. You’ll receive directions for caring for a child once he or she returns home.
The team at Pediatric Cardiology Center of Oregon has been caring for patients since 1986. We can help prepare you and your child for your procedure. Please contact us for more information.