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Mended Little HeartGuide

About My Child’s Heart Table of Introduction Contents SECTION Taking Care of Yourself (Do Not Skip This!) Parents and caregivers of children with CHD often think that taking care of their child comes first. Wrong! You must take care of yourself so that you can effectively care for your child. (We understand that this is easier said than done.) You will be faced with making important choices about your child’s care, and you can’t make the best decisions if you’re too tired, physically unwell or overwhelmed with very high levels of stress or anxiety. That’s why it’s vital for you to follow these tips and take care of yourself first: Ask for and accept help. Acknowledging and accepting that you need help can be difficult. Remember, your family and friends want to help you and support you during this stressful time, so allow them to do so. Make a list of things that need to be done to keep your life running, and be realistic about what you have the time and energy to accomplish. Keep the list handy, and next time a friend or family member asks how they can help, pick something from the list. Give yourself a break. You do not need to have all the answers or to be with your child every second of every day. Please, give yourself a break! We know it is scary to leave your child’s side, particularly after surgery or when he or she is in the hospital, but you do really need to get away — even for just a little while. For your own mental health, it is essential to schedule time away from the responsibilities of parenting and caregiving. Make plans for a friend, family member or health care provider to spend time with your child while you read a book, go shopping, dine out, nap … anything that is truly relaxing. Connect with your care team, support network and other families. Being the caregiver of a child with medical needs can be an isolating experience. It is important that you reach out and connect with others who can help you feel less alone during the journey. Ask your medical provider or social worker to refer you to community support groups or put you in touch with another family that has experienced a similar situation. Use the internet to keep distant family and friends updated on your child’s condition and care plan. Take advantage of your hospital’s support services such as social workers, child life services, pastoral care or parent navigators. Take care of your own health. When you are caring for your child, it’s easy for your health to become secondary. But if you aren’t healthy, it will be more difficult to meet your child’s needs. Make the time to see your physician regularly. If you have recently given birth, it is important to follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding activity restrictions and to keep follow-up appointments. Go To 10


Mended Little HeartGuide
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