Preparing for surgery

If your child is scheduled for surgery, this guide will tell you what you need to know getting ready.

Talking with your child before surgery

Depending upon your child's age, it's important that you talk to them about the experience, sometimes starting well in advance. You can also ease your child's stay by taking advantage of one of our pre-admission tours and by packing the right things.

Visit our preparing your child and family page >>>

Pre-op phone call

You will be contacted two to three days before your child’s surgery. You will be asked a few questions and given some information, including the time of surgery, when to arrive and when your child should stop eating and drinking before surgery.

You will be notified if your child needs to have lab tests or a physical completed by your family physician prior to your child’s surgery.

ALERT: Call your child’s doctor, nurse, or the clinic that scheduled the surgery if you have any questions or concerns or if your child has:

  • Cold or illness symptoms the night before or the morning of surgery such as runny nose,fever, cough or rashes
  • Special health care needs that were not covered by this information

When to stop eating and drinking

It's important that you understand the eating and drinking restrictions for your child. Learn more about the restriction guidelines >>>

Pre-op wash with Chlorhexidine Gluconate (CHG)® Cloths

Why do I need to wash my child before surgery?

Carefully wipe your child the night before surgery with these pre-op cloths to help reduce the number of germs on your child’s skin. Skin with less germs means less infections after surgery. Your child will also be washed by the hospital staff just before going into surgery. Do not use these cloths if your child has an allergy or is sensitive to chlorhexidine, has burns, rashes, eczema, open wounds or dressings that can not be removed. Your child should not shave any body hair before surgery as this can also increase the chance of infection.

How do I wash my child with the pre-op cloths?

  • Washing needs to be done on the night before surgery.
  • All jewelry must be removed such as earrings, necklaces and bracelets. It needs to be kept off until after the surgery. Talk with the nurse if you are worried about taking any jewelry off for cultural or religious reasons.
  • Clean and trim your child’s fingernails and toenails. Remove any nail polish.
  • Wash your child first with regular soap and shampoo. Rinse and dry well.
  • Take the pre-op cloths and wipe them on the surgical area. Use all the clothes and wipe the area for 3 minutes. Let the skin dry. Do not rinse the area with water unless a rash or redness starts.
  • Do not use them on the face, ears, eyes, nose, mouth or the private/genital area. Rinse these areas with lots of clean, warm water if the cloths do touch them as they may become red and irritated.
  • Do not use any baby oil or lotions. These products may attract dirt to the skin.
  • Dress your child in clean, washed clothes or pajamas after each wash.
  • Wash any comfort items such as a blanket or stuffed toy that may be coming along with your child to the hospital.
  • Do not flush the cloths down the toilet. Throw them away in the trash.

What should you bring?

The choice of what to bring from home can make a big difference for your child please bring the following:

  • Special toy or blanket
  • Sippy cup or bottle used at home (please give to the nurse in pre-op)
  • Identification card
  • Something to read and some snacks for while you are in the waiting area
  • Just in case your stay is longer than you expect, please pack a bag with extra clothes for both you and your child
  • Even if you are planning on going home the same day, your child will need to rest the day of surgery to have a full recovery. Please keep this in mind if there are other siblings at home.

Get more details on what you should bring. >>>

Videos on what to expect

We want you be comfortable with what to expect when you arrive and what the day surgery area. The following videos will show you what to expect at:

  • Children's Wisconsin Hospital in Milwaukee
  • Children's Wisconsin Surgicenter

Hear from one of our kids of what to expect on surgery day:

  • Video in English
  • Video en Espanol

Recognized by the American College of Surgeons, our Level I verification represents the highest level of recognition for hospitals that perform complex surgical procedures in newborns and children.

Access appointment information and medical records, manage prescriptions, and message your child's doctor. Visit MyChart.