Surgery at CHOC :: Know the Basics
Will my child be asleep during surgery?
Children are routinely sedated for surgery. Sedation helps keep a child comfortable before, during, and after surgery and helps decrease the child’s anxiety.
What can I do to help my child be less afraid of surgery?
Honesty is the best policy when it comes to explaining surgery to any child. We encourage caregivers to explain surgery using whatever means they may feel best suits their child—whether it be drawing pictures, role play using toys, or a sit-down family discussion. To make explaining surgery easier, we have developed specific guides broken down by age group, as well as a guide for siblings. In addition, we have also written a guide to surgery specifically for teens.
Can I be with my child when he or she wakes up?
Our nurses will bring back one parent (or guardian) at a time once the child is in recovery and feels the patient is responsive. It is important to know that children and teens may not act “like themselves” after surgery. The patient’s behavior or emotions may seem alarming but should only last a short amount of time. It is natural to want to wake the child to ask how he or she is feeling once in recovery. The best thing the patient’s family can do is to allow the patient to sleep after surgery. The sleep after surgery not only helps the body repair from the procedure, but allows the patient’s pain medication to take effect.
How can I decrease my child’s chances of getting an infection during or after surgery?
At CHOC Children’s we take infection prevention very seriously. Anyone undergoing surgery is at an increased risk for infection. However, there are many things patients and their families can do to decrease their infection risk, including proper hand-washing, keeping children and adults who may be sick away from the patient, and more. Read more about surgical infection prevention.
Will my baby be able to breastfeed following surgery?
When a baby is having surgery, it can be a frightening experience for the family and the child. Breastfeeding provides both mother and child comfort and a sense of calm when things are stressful. Because all patients must fast (not eat or drink) prior to surgery, breastfeeding must be delayed for a period of time prior to surgery. For more information on eating and drinking before surgery, please see the question below.
In most cases, babies are able to return to breastfeeding once awake enough to drink liquids without problems. The patient’s nurse or doctor will let mom know when the baby is ready to eat again. Mothers should speak with their doctor or a lactation consultant about pumping and keeping up their milk supply while the baby is fasting and in surgery.
Why can’t my child eat or drink before surgery?
Combining anesthesia with food or liquid in a patient’s stomach can cause the patient to vomit during surgery. Learn more about why this can be harmful to patients in this video.
The concept of not being able to eat or drink before surgery is often referred to as “NPO.” Read more about CHOC Children’s NPO guidelines.