How Parents Can Prepare For Their Child's Surgery
July 13, 2021
If your child has to have surgery, no matter how minor, you will no doubt be nervous. Here are some tips for how you can prepare yourself for your child’s surgery, from Thomas Steineke, M.D., neurosurgeon and chair of the Neuroscience Institute at JFK University Medical Center. Dr. Steineke works with both adults and children, and is a parent himself.
- Develop a relationship with your child’s surgeon and medical team. “It’s critical to have a trusting relationship with the surgeon and medical team,” he says. “Let them walk you through the process, because the more you understand what’s going to happen, the more comfortable you’re going to be.”
In order to build that trusting relationship, he encourages parents to reach out to their child’s surgeon and the medical team to talk about concerns and to ask questions. It’s also appropriate to share your anxieties, too. “We realize this is a huge deal for you and your family,” he says.
- Educate yourself. Besides depending on your child’s surgeon and medical team for information about the surgery, you can check out reputable sources to learn more. Professional medical associations often offer detailed information for patients and families about specific procedures on their websites.
- Get support. Ask your friends and family to pitch in while you are caring for your child at the hospital and when you all return home following surgery. Talk to your surgeon or the medical team about what social services are available at the hospital or in the community, such as meal or grocery delivery services, child care services if you have other children at home and transportation services.
The surgeon or someone on the medical team may be able to connect you to other families whose children had the same surgery. They can share their experiences with you and answer your questions about what will happen from the perspective of someone who has been in your shoes.
- Practice self-care. It’s easy to get wrapped up in caring for your child, and, of course, you’re trying to hold it together for everyone. But it’s important to care for yourself, too. “I think parents have to not lose sight of themselves,” Dr. Steineke says.
Make an effort to get enough sleep, to eat nutritious foods, and make use of tools like yoga, mindfulness, exercise, listening to music or other stress- and anxiety-reducing techniques that work well for you.
Next Steps & Resources:
- Meet our source: Thomas Steineke, M.D. To make an appointment with Dr. Steineke or another doctor near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website.