How to prepare your child for surgery
We'll help you support your child before and after surgery
Preparing for surgery can be daunting so it’s important to feel as confident as possible in the days leading up to your hospital stay.
Make a list of any questions you have, and don’t underestimate the importance of having a positive mindset.
At nib, we want to make your hospital journey as simple and stress-free as possible so we've partnered with one of our nib Registered Nurses to answer some of the most commonly asked surgery questions.
Unless your doctor has told you not to shower, it’s a good idea to shower both the evening before your surgery and the morning of your surgery.
Refrain from using deodorants, powder, perfumes, lotions and moisturisers, as the products can leave residue on your skin.
Don’t wear makeup when you are going in for surgery. Some products like foundation can mask your natural skin colour, which the surgical team need to be able to see, so it’s best to arrive at the hospital fresh-faced.
Smoking increases risk of complications in surgery, including blood clots, pneumonia and heart attacks, so the earlier you stop smoking before your surgery, the better. This includes e-cigarettes or vaping. However, it’s essential you don’t smoke at least 24 hours before surgery and you must be honest with your anaesthetist about when you last smoked and what you smoked.
Generally, when you’re admitted into hospital, you’ll be given a lockable drawer or small safe to store valuables in, but it’s probably best to leave your precious items at home.
Going into surgery with food in your stomach can be dangerous and your medical team will advise you to fast for at least six hours prior to being admitted – this includes chewing gum and breath mints. Make sure you get instructions from your nurse or doctor and follow them closely.
It’s recommended that in the lead-up to your surgery, you reduce your alcohol consumption as it could alter the effects of the anaesthetic. In the 24 hours before your surgery, you shouldn’t drink any alcohol.
This depends on the type of medication. Before your surgery, take advice from your medical team on what medication you should continue to take as normal and what you should stop in the lead-up to your operation.
You’ll have to remove all jewellery before you head into surgery, so we recommend taking it off and leaving it at home to make sure it doesn’t get lost or misplaced. If you are worried that your wedding ring won’t come off your finger, explain this to your specialist and in most cases they will put tape or plaster over your ring.
Before you head into surgery, you’ll likely be given a hospital robe to put on, so what you wear to the hospital is really up to you. However, we recommend wearing comfortable clothing and footwear that’s easy to take on and off as needed and a spare change of underwear (you’ll never know when it might come in handy).
If you’re having day surgery, you won’t be able to drive home afterwards, so it’s essential to organise transport home. The hospital may require you to be accompanied home by a family member or friend, but if not, arrange for a taxi to pick you up.
Mobile phones can interfere with some hospital equipment, so you may be asked to switch yours off when staying in certain wards. If that’s the case, ask your nurse where you are allowed to take a call or use social media.
After your surgery, you’ll be taken into a recovery room with other patients where you’ll be monitored until you’re ready to be transferred to your ward. The amount of time you’ll spend in recovery depends on the complexity of the surgery, your response to the treatment and your overall health.
It’s a good idea to take your nib card with you to hospital; but if you do forget it, don’t stress. The hospital should have all your details on file before you’re admitted for surgery.
It’s not essential that someone waits at the hospital while you’re in surgery. If you do decide to bring along a support person, they’re usually welcome to wait in the reception area until you’ve been allocated a bed.
During surgery, your oxygen levels will be monitored and one of the most common ways of doing this is using a probe placed on your finger. Nail polish and acrylic nails can interfere with this, so you may be asked to remove the polish or acrylics before you arrive. Some surgeons might agree to letting you keep your acrylics on, so long as you remove one from each hand, but it’s best to discuss with the hospital prior to admission.
Dentures can be a hazard during your operation, as they may become loose and obstruct your airways while you’re under anaesthetic, so in order to keep you safe, you’ll be asked to take them out. However, many surgeons understand that removing dentures can be traumatic and will request you remove them right before your anaesthetic, so you can remain comfortable during any preparation.
If you have your period on the day of your surgery, let the surgeon, surgical nurse or anaesthetist know. Instead of a tampon, they will probably ask you to use a pad in case they need to catheterise you during surgery.
If you're an nib member, call us on 13 16 42 and head to our Going to Hospital page so we can give you extra support throughout your journey.