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Preparing the Infant for Surgery

What part of surgery is most stressful for a baby?

Babies are too young to be helped by preoperative planning, education, and explanations. But recognizing what is stressful to babies can guide you in planning for your baby's surgery. Things that are stressful to babies in the hospital may include:

  • Separation from parents

  • Having many different caregivers

  • Seeing strange sights, sounds, and smells

  • New and different routines

  • Interrupted sleep

  • Day and night confusion

  • Pain or discomfort from procedures

How do I prepare my baby for surgery?

  • It's important to keep your baby's routine the same before the day of surgery.

  • Make sure you, your baby, and your family are well-rested.

  • Bring your baby's favorite security item and perhaps some soothing music to the hospital. This will help create a more familiar environment for your baby. You may make a tape of your voice reading or singing for the nursing staff to play when you are not there.

  • Let the nursing staff know what your baby's usual schedule is. This includes sleep patterns and feeding habits.

  • Make plans for at least one parent to be with your baby as much as possible so that your baby will have a familiar touch, voice, and smile.

  • Try to remain calm. This is the most important part about preparing your infant for surgery. Your baby will sense if you are frightened or stressed. Be well-informed about what to expect on the day of surgery and ask questions to ease any fears you might have. Relaxed, nonverbal communication, such as voice, facial expressions, gestures, and body language can give positive assurance to your baby.

  • Be patient with your baby. It's normal for them to cry and be fussy during this stressful time. Your baby may be very clingy and become hard to comfort and console. Give a lot of love, and let your baby know that you will be nearby.

  • Plan to distract, rock, walk, and comfort your baby during the brief period before surgery when your baby can't eat or drink.

  • Remember, too, to take care of yourself. Simplify your life during this time and don't be afraid to ask for help from family and friends. Remaining positive and calm can help reduce your baby's anxiety.