Published: Aug. 17, 2010
Updated: Aug. 17, 2010
After surgery, your child will likely go to the pediatric cardiothoracic intensive care unit. You will be able to visit your child there, even though some tubes and equipment may still be attached for a few days.
You may notice some swelling, which is typical. Extra fluid and medicines given through IVs can cause some swelling. Swelling often occurs in the face and eyelids but will eventually disappear as the kidneys get rid of the extra fluid.
You can -- and should -- touch and talk to your child. Hearing your voice will be very reassuring and make your child less afraid.
Your child will receive painkillers and medicines to reduce pain and anxiety. These are given through the IVs and are fast and effective. Often children cry not because of pain but because of fear and anxiety, so spend some time with your child: read a story, sing, brush your child's hair. Do what you know your child likes.
When your child improves, which means he no longer needs IVs, can breathe without a machine, has a normal blood pressure and heart rhythm, and only a little or no bloody drainage from the chest tubes, you are one step closer to having them home again. It is time to leave the ICU.
Once your child is in a regular hospital room, you will need to learn what to do once the child comes home. For example, you may have to learn to give heart medicines, keep a chart of those medicines, learn how to hold your child, and check for redness, darkness, swelling, or drainage from the incision.
After recovery, if the heart problem is fixed, you should let your child grow and develop in a completely normal manner. Your doctor will give you advice.
You will also have to come for checkups with the heart surgeon and the cardiologist so that your child's progress can be checked.