Planning for surgery

If your child is less than 18 years of age, a parent or legal guardian must be with them. No matter your child’s age, someone must be present to drive your child home.

If your child is going home the day of surgery, plan to stay at the hospital for 3 to 4 hours after the surgery is over, to allow your child time to recover.

Some medicines can cause bleeding. 

  • For 2 weeks before surgery, do not give your child Aspirin or any medicines that have aspirin in them.
  • For 3 days before surgery, do not give your child Advil, Motrin, or any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs). Do not give any medicine that has Advil, Motrin, or a NSAID in it. 
  • Your child can have acetaminophen (Tylenol) as ordered by your doctor until the day of surgery.

Day before surgery

We will call you after 2 p.m. the day before your child's surgery to confirm your surgery time. If no one has called you by 4 p.m., please call the Ambulatory Surgery Center for Main OR or ASC surgeries at 319-384-8039.

You will be given instructions and where to park by the operating room nurse.

It is important for your child to drink a lot of fluids the day before the surgery.

Day of surgery

Your child should wear loose, comfortable clothing to the hospital.

Your child can bring things that are important to them, like a blanket, toys, books, or music.

Please bring any medications your child is taking, including inhalers. If your child takes insulin, he/she should not take it on the morning of surgery, but you should bring it with you.

It is very important for your child's tummy (stomach) to be empty before surgery. You must follow these dietary guidelines or your child's surgery may be cancelled:

  • Infants may have breast milk until 4 hours before surgery.
  • Infants may have infant formula or milk products until 6 hours before surgery.
  • Children may have solid food until 8 hours before surgery.
  • All children may have small amounts of clear liquids, including water, until 2 hours before surgery (infants may have 2 ounces, older children may have 4 ounces)
  • No child may have anything at all to eat or drink 2 hours before surgery.

Parents will wait in the surgical waiting room during the surgery. If you leave the waiting room, please let the waiting room staff know how to reach you while you are gone.

After surgery

After surgery, if you are staying in the hospital:

  • Your child will likely have some pain. While we cannot always make all the pain go away, it is important that your child’s pain is controlled so your child can rest, get out of bed, walk, and do the breathing exercises. If the pain medicine does not help, please talk to your nurse or doctor.
  • Diet: Your child will start drinking clear liquids and slowly increase to normal food again.
  • Activity: Your child will need to get up out of bed the day of surgery. The days after surgery your child will need to walk at least four times a day. This prevents infections.
  • Breathing exercise: Your child will need to take deep breaths often. Your nurse will give your child a tool called an incentive spirometer. If your child is too young to use an incentive spirometer, he or she will be given bubbles to blow.
  • Your nurse will keep track of what your child eats and drinks, how much they urinate (pee), and how often they stool (poop).
  • Your child will have an IV (intravenous tube) to get extra fluid and medicine. Your child may also have a dressing over the incision and tubes to remove fluid from the surgery. Your nurse will explain these tubes and how they work.

When you transition to home:

After some surgeries, your child should not play with straddle toys (like walkers, bikes, jumper chairs) for 2 to 4 weeks. Your doctor or nurse will tell you if your child should not play with these toys.

Keep the incision or wound clean and dry.

Diapers should be changed often if the wound is in the diaper area.

Your child may shower in 24 hours after surgery. Your child may take a tub bath 2 days after surgery. If steri strips have not fallen off in 14 days, gently remove with a bath.

No swimming for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, swimming must be in a chlorinated pool. No rivers, lakes, or ponds for 6 weeks.

Avoid tight clothing over wound. You may use gauze between clothing and wound to prevent rubbing.

Avoid any sports or playing that may cause trauma to the wound for 3 to 6 weeks. This includes physical education classes at school, riding a bicycle or tricycle, playing ball, etc.

Give your child pain medicines on a regular basis before he/she begins to hurt. You will need to have acetaminophen (TylenolTM) and Ibuprofen (AdvilTM, or MotrinTM) at home after surgery. 

Please call if the following occurs: 


  • Cold, cough, runny nose
  • Chills or temperature over 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C)
  • Other signs of being sick, such as vomiting, flu-like symptoms, and diarrhea


Monday through Friday
8 a.m. through 4:30 p.m.
Pediatric Surgery Nurse at 1-319-356-2229, then press 3


Evening, nights, weekends, or holidays
Call the hospital operator at 1-319-384-8442 or toll-free 1-888-573-5437 and ask for the Pediatric Surgeon on call.
To assist with call management, you will be asked several questions when using the toll-free number.

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