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Your Child’s Surgery

After surgery

When your child is ready to leave ​the post-anesthetic care unit (PACU), they’ll be transferred to another unit where they’ll stay until they leave the hospital.

If you don’t already know your child’s hospital room, call Patient Information at the hospital.

What to expect

Your child will come from the PACU on a portable hospital bed called a stretcher. They’ll be transferred to a hospital bed or crib once they get to their room. Nurses will closely monitor your child after the surgery. Your child may stay in the hospital room for a few hours or longer, depending on how long they need to stay in the hospital.

Nurses will check your child’s:

  • temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen level
  • intravenous (IV) to make sure it’s OK
  • pain level
  • nausea and vomiting

They’ll give pain and nausea medicine when your child needs it.

Managing pain after surgery

Good pain relief will help your child recover more quickly from their surgery. For the first 24 to 72 hours after surgery, you or the nurse may need to wake your child to check their pain and make sure the pain medicine is working.

Pain management after surgery is a team approach. You are an important part of the team along with your child’s healthcare providers. You can support your child’s recovery by knowing what to expect and how to manage pain.

  • Know what words and what behaviours your child uses to show pain.
  • Let your child’s healthcare team know when the pain medicine is working or not working.
  • Talk to your child’s healthcare team if you have any questions about how your child’s pain is being treated in the hospital.

Pain scales are tools that your healthcare team uses to measure your child’s pain. There are many kinds of these measuring tools and different ones are used depending on your child’s age.

  • The Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability (FLACC) scale uses a child’s behaviour to measure pain in children ages 2 months to 7 years and in children who have trouble communicating their pain.
  • The FACES Pain Scale helps children ages 4 to 9 communicate their pain to you or their nurse.
  • The Number Scale uses a scale of 0 to 10 to help children ages 8 and older to communicate their pain to you or their nurse.

Pain medicine can be given in different ways to manage your child’s pain after surgery. Pain medicine is most often given:

  • into a vein, called intravenous (IV) medicine
  • by mouth, called oral medicine

Some special ways of giving pain medicine are when it’s:

  • controlled by the patient, called patient-controlled analgesia or PCA
  • put into a space around the spinal cord and spinal nerves in the OR (called epidural analgesia)

Moving around after surgery

It’s important for your child to get out of bed as soon as they’re able to. Walking is an activity that can help them recover. Your child may need physiotherapy. This is a treatment to help them move better and can help manage pain. If your child isn’t allowed to get out of bed, lying in different positions or sitting in bed will help their recovery.

Your child’s healthcare team will let you know when your child should start getting out of bed. Your child should be able to do activities comfortably if they take pain medicine 30 to 60 minutes before the activity. Each day your child should be able to move more, be more active, and walk farther. Each day they’ll be able to do these activities longer and with less pain medicine.


Your child will learn how to do some exercises (such as taking deep breaths and coughing) that will help them recover more quickly after surgery. Have your child do these exercises until they go home. Remind them to do the exercises and tell them how well they’re doing. You can have your child practice the exercises at home before surgery, so they’ll know what to expect.

Talk to your child’s nurse or other healthcare provider if you have questions about the exercises. Learn more about exercises after surgery, including deep breathing, coughing, and moving.​​

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