Preparing your child for heart surgery can be quite traumatic. They may have had previous surgeries when they were younger, but now that they're older, you'll need to prepare them for the procedure. This is particularly true if their previous surgeries took place when they were an infant. They probably don't remember any of it, which means this is a whole new experience for them. If your child is fearful, or apprehensive about the surgery, you need to do all that you can to alleviate the distress.

Tour the Hospital

If this will be your child's first surgical procedure – that they can remember – they may be concerned about the hospital stay. You can alleviate some of that concern by taking your child on a tour of the hospital. Letting your child spend some time walking through the hospital will better prepare them for the sights, sounds, and smells they'll encounter during their stay. If you can get permission in advance, take your child to the unit where they'll be staying after their surgery. This will allow them to meet some of the nurses who will be caring for them during their hospital stay.

Meet with a Child Life Specialist

If you haven't done so already, you should take your child to meet with a child life specialist. Child life specialists are trained medical professionals who work directly with children and their families during treatment. Your child will be assigned their own child life specialist who will be there to provide support. They'll even accompany your child to their various medical procedures, and help explain what's going on. Meeting with a child life specialist in advance will allow them to form a bond with your child early.

Do Your Own Research

Your child is going to be looking to you for strength and reassurance. If you're nervous about the surgery, your child will sense that, and react accordingly. You can alleviate some of that nervousness by doing some research. Prior to your child's surgery, learn as much as you can about the procedure. Talk to your child's medical team, and ask questions. The answers you receive will help calm your nerves, so you can calm your child's.

Let Them Ask Questions

Your child is going to have questions. Depending on their age, those questions may be very basic, or they may be detailed questions, requiring detailed answers. Let your child ask as many questions as they have. Answer them to the best of your ability. If they ask a question that you don't know the answer to, encourage them to ask their doctor at their next appointment.

Contact a medical center like Alpert Zales & Castro Pediatric Cardiology for more information and assistance.