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Mended Little HeartGuide

Diagnosis 3 In The Tips from Parents for Managing a Hospital Stay Parents who’ve been through the experience of having a baby or child who needed heart surgery answered this question: “What is the one thing you wish you had known when you were in the hospital with your child that would have made your stay easier?” Here is their advice to you: Take Care of Yourself In addition to the information on Taking Care of Yourself in this Mended Little HeartGuide, there are things you need to know specific to a hospital stay. It can be difficult to take care of yourself while your child is in the hospital, but it’s important for your well-being. You will be a better caregiver for your child if you take care of yourself. • Take a break. You need to get out of the hospital room, even for five or ten minutes at a time to give yourself a little time away from all of the stress. Go outside if you can and just breathe. If someone comes into the room and asks what they can do, have them stay and/or play with your child so you can get out for a little while. Don’t spend your break time getting things done or working — really take a break. Get a snack and just sit and enjoy it. • Get sleep. Being in the hospital, especially if you’ve just had a baby, is exhausting. Find a place where you can get some sleep. Hospitals sometimes have parent sleeping rooms where you can rest. You may have to sign up for the room, so be sure to find out. • It’s okay to cry. Sometimes parents and caregivers feel embarrassed about crying in front of medical professionals or others. It’s okay to cry and release some emotions. It’s normal to be sad and scared, and crying is a normal response to these feelings. In fact, caregivers expect parents to feel and respond in this way. Be sure to keep tissues with you. • Stay warm. It’s often cold and dry in the hospital, so bring a sweater and slippers to keep warm. You may want to bring hand lotion and lip balm as well to prevent dry skin. • Eat regular meals with fruits and vegetables. Healthy meals are especially important if you just gave birth. Breastfeeding moms are often able to get a meal from the hospital, so be sure to ask. Eating a well-balanced diet will make you feel better and less exhausted. Ask your hospital’s social worker if they offer any discounts for patient families. • Connect with other parents or find a support group. Most parents wish they had had someone to talk to who had been through heart surgery with a child. There is truly nothing like it, and connecting with other parents or caregivers can help ease the fear. Again, a social worker at your hospital should be able to help connect you with these types of resources both inside and outside the hospital. • Remember: This, too, shall pass. It will not seem like it at times, but you will make it through this. Don’t be afraid to ask for counseling or help. Hospital life is very challenging, but you won’t be there forever. 1 General Information 2 Prenatal Hospital 4 Living With CHD 5 Forms 53


Mended Little HeartGuide
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