Before Your Child Goes into Surgery

Tips from nurse anesthetists

Moms and dads will naturally get anxious if their child needs a surgical procedure. That’s why the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists put together a guide for parents on how to ease their fears and make the process as easy as possible for the child.

START STRONG
•When parents remain calm, their little ones take the cue. The best way to reduce anxiety all around is to have a clear understanding of what to expect.
•Talk to the surgeon, without your child present, to get all the information you need and your questions answered.
•Find out when you will be separated from your child at the hospital and what they will experience without you before anesthesia takes hold.
•Avoid crying in front of your child. If emotions get too strong, take a few minutes away from your child to collect yourself.

BE HONEST
•You have the information from the surgeon, so explain as much as you can to your child before the surgery and answer their questions. If you don’t know the answer, tell them you will find out. Don’t guess or make something up.
•Avoid describing the effect of anesthesia as “taking a nap,” since that can lead to fears around the word nap later. Tell them they will get some medicine that will make them sleep.
•Compare the time they will be in surgery to the length of a favorite video.
•Prepare your child to know that when they wake up from surgery, “it might hurt.”

ALL DONE
•Be present when your child wakes up, if recommended by the anesthetist. If your child is staying overnight, ask about rooming with them.
•Ask the doctor and nurse for directions on caring for your recovering child at home. If you have any questions once you are home, call for more information.

Source: American Association of Nurse Anesthetists