Heart disease of any kind brings with it repeated trips to the doctor for tests, procedures and surgery (if required), or even for the slightest footstep of sickness. Fear and worry come naturally to parents, especially when this illness knocks on the lives of their children.
Here are some tips to keep your child in high spirits during the hospital visits or stays:
Bring a favorite blanket or toy, it will make them feel comfortable.
Do inform the nurses about any particular routine or habit that your child might have.
Do tell the nurses about any words which calm the child.
If your child is a newborn, hold and touch him or her often to promote bonding.
If your child has oxygen problems:
Help calm the child.
Keep your child warm.
Teach your child to lie down and sit with his/her knees to the chest as it helps in regulating oxygen level in the body.
Oxygen is usually given (in the hospital) by placing a tube at the entrance of the nostril, it has to be regulated and the amount of oxygen needs to be calculated.
Your child may also require oxygen at home. It is given through a small tube that is connected to an oxygen cylinder or concentrator.
Keep a check on your child's medicines as heart medicines are strong and can be dangerous if not given correctly.
If your child takes a blood thinning medication, take care to avoid injury as blood thinners can cause serious bleeding problems.
A home nurse can help to keep track and schedule medicines, manage oxygen levels, and keep the child comfortable.
Children who have heart defects need a lot of nutrients and a well-balanced diet.
Small portions with frequent meals in 2-3 hour intervals.
Learn to recognize your child’s signs of hunger such as sucking on a fist, biting, etc.
Talking to a nutritionist to help in preparing balanced meals that can give your child the energy that he/she needs.
Congenital heart defects can increase the risk of an infection. Routine vaccinations and antibiotics to prevent infections are a must.
Children can have low self-esteem because of their scars from surgery and might not be growing as well as their peers. Keep their spirits high by encouraging them and keeping them active and occupied with other things.
They may also feel alone and have trouble making friends and keeping them due to their on-and-off visits to the hospital.
Teaching young adults about their heart defect and self-care skills that include medicines, exercise, and a heart-healthy lifestyle is very important.
Taking care of yourself:
You can only take care of your child if you are strong and healthy. CHD is a lifelong and possibly life-threatening illness. The first step is to accept it, which you might have already crossed. Along with caring for your child, you need to take good care of your own physical and emotional health. It will help give you the energy that you need to care for your child.
You can also:
Learn more about the heart defect.
Join a support group.
Talk to a counselor.