After surgery, your child will go to the Post Anesthetic Care Unit (PACU) until their anesthetic wears off.
Recovery after surgery can be difficult for children as they may not understand why they feel uncomfortable. It's very common for children to experience some type of discomfort or pain after surgery. Each child experiences pain differently. How your child feels will depend on the type of surgery they've had.
Poorly managed pain can have immediate and long-term effects. Pain is stressful and affects the body's ability to heal. Pain can cause fear, anxiety, aggression and distrust. A variety of methods will be used to reduce your child’s pain such as medications, positioning for comfort, play, distraction, coaching and breastfeeding for infants. Nurses will stop by often to assess your child’s pain. This allows them to prevent pain by giving medications regularly, instead of waiting and trying to relieve the pain.
Once your child has returned from PACU to the pediatric unit, the doctor and nurses will decide when they can start drinking and eating again. This will start slowly, with water first and then clear liquids, such as apple juice and popsicles. As long as your child doesn't vomit, they will be allowed to eat a light meal. Immediately after surgery, your child may not feel hungry. This is normal and their appetite will return. It's important that you continue to encourage them to drink fluids so they do not become dehydrated.
The doctor will come and assess your child daily. Recovery time varies from child to child and the type of surgery they've had. Your doctor and nurses will work with you and your child to make the recovery process as smooth as possible. Once your child is well enough and comfortable to go home, doctors and nurses will review your discharge instructions with you. If your child needs to go home with antibiotics or pain medications, the doctor will give you a prescription for medication before you are discharged. You will be given times for follow-up appointments if needed.
It's helpful to write down any questions you may have about your child’s surgery, recovery, follow-up and hospital stay. Be sure to review these with your child’s care team before you go home.