Going Home After Surgery

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While everyone is excited to go home after surgery, it can also be a time of anxiety and fear. Losing the hospital monitors and medical staff can be hard. But your child’s doctors wouldn’t be recommending going home if they didn’t think your child was ready.

Here are a few steps that can help ease any anxiety so that you and your child can go home confidently.

Review the Discharge Summary

As part of the preparation to go home, your doctors will give you a discharge summary. It includes all kinds of information, like medication instructions, when to get your child moving, and follow-up appointments.

Make sure you and your doctor spend some time talking about this document and review any details you have questions about.

Some common questions include:

  • What if we miss a dose of medicine?
  • What signs should make us call back immediately?
  • What can we do for pain if the medication isn’t enough?
  • What if an activity (like going upstairs) can’t be avoided? How can I make it safer?

The Drive Home

For many families, the toughest part of going home after surgery is the drive. We’ll try to help out by making sure your discharge syncs up with a dosage of your child’s pain medication. This will help with the car ride.

Many children get sick on the ride home, so it’s a good idea to bring a bag or something they can throw up into if they need it.

If they’ve had abdominal surgery, many find a pillow good for bracing, especially if you live on a bumpy or curvy road.

If your child is still young enough to need a car seat, it’s very important you continue to use that after surgery. Talk to your doctor about the best way to adjust the seat to meet your child’s current needs.

Life At Home

After surgery, life at home will be a little different while your child recovers. Here are some of the ways you might see a difference.

Activity Levels

Activities like playing, lifting, jumping, or other physical stressors should be avoided until after your follow-up appointment. But your child might not be as bothered by that as usual.

Recovering from surgery requires a lot of energy. Your child might sleep more, or want to spend more time in bed reading, playing video games, or enjoying a movie. These are all good activities. Just remember to help them move as much as is comfortable — a few times a day to improve recovery times.

Eating & Drinking

Anesthesia and pain medications can both cause digestive problems. Nausea, constipation, and vomiting are all normal. But it’s important to keep your kid hydrated. Water, ginger ale, and fruit juice are all good options. Some kids respond very positively to drinks with electrolytes, like Pedialyte.

Comfort foods, like soup and crackers, can help ease your child back into eating.

Other children are ready to eat and drink right away. Unless your doctor has advised a particular diet, let your child listen to their body and eat and drink what they feel ready for.


Sleep is one of the ways our body heals after surgery. After surgery, you may notice your child sleeping more. They may also start feeling tired during the day or have trouble sleeping at night.

For most kids, this will naturally regulate itself. As your child feels better and returns to activities they enjoy, they’ll find their natural sleep rhythm again.

Keeping your family’s mealtime, bedtime, and bath time routines can help.

Managing Pain After Surgery

Your child may have been prescribed a pain medication after surgery. Follow the instructions on this very closely. Additionally, we may give you instructions about nonprescription pain medications, like Tylenol or ibuprofen.

You can combine these medicines with other methods of pain relief, like:

  • Heat or ice
  • Elevating the body part
  • Offering favorite activities or foods
  • Help your child relax, with massage or breathing techniques

If your child’s pain medication isn’t helping, contact us. Some pain after surgery is a normal part of healing. But your child may need additional pain management if they’re:

  • Unable to be distracted from their pain
  • Crying or screaming and unable to be calmed
  • Unable to find a comfortable position
  • Unable to sleep

When to Call

We’ll schedule regular follow-up visits after surgery to make sure your child’s healing is going well. You can always call us with concerns or questions. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact us right away:

  • Sudden fever
  • Can’t drink fluids
  • Pain is increasing sharply (It’s normal for pain to get worse around the 3rd day)
  • Unusual discharge at the surgical site
  • Pain that isn’t near the surgical site