Nancy Flanders is back after a short stint away from DifferentDream.com. (She was busy conducting a successful cystic fibrosis fundraiser, BTW.) As always, her post is full of practical tips for you. In it, she deals with the sticky topic of getting a child through a blood draw.
Getting A Child Through a Blood Draw
There’s nothing I dread more than watching my daughter endure a blood draw, except perhaps watching a struggling technician try to locate a good vein. But after going through five in 2 1/2 years (four with child number one, and one with child number two), I have become somewhat of a pro. I know what to expect, I know what to ask for, and I know how to make my child as comfortable as possible.
Expect the Best
No matter what the doctor or nurse who is scheduling the blood draw says, the worst place to let them do a blood draw on your child is in the lab. Many of the technicians are afraid to work on a small child, especially a baby, and will waste huge amounts of time trying to work up the courage to put a needle into your baby’s arm. They will say they can’t find a vein. But then the more experienced technician will walk in – after your child is screaming and you are ready to walk out the door – and she will put the needle in and draw out the blood as if it was the most basic skill a person could have. Skip the dramatics. Find out who the best person is to perform your child’s blood draw. There are nurses who specialize in working with children. They are the people you want. Ask for them. Demand them. You will not regret it.
Insist on Comfort
There are wonderful people in this world known as Child Life Specialists. They are gifted at making children feel not just comfortable, but happy and carefree in a hospital setting. I can’t even begin to explain my level of gratitude to our very own Jenny at clinic. She has chased away many a tantrum and her colleagues at The Comfort Zone are equally amazing. They stop at nothing to make my daughter comfortable. They blow bubbles, sing songs, read books, do puzzles, and will act like a child themselves.
Ease the Pain
Peanut’s first two blood draws didn’t involve any numbing cream. It wasn’t offered and I’m guessing that’s because EMLA has been shown to have the worst side effects for infants. So for her first two blood draws, Peanut felt the pain of the needle. It still bothers me, especially because there are other options. Sweet-Ease is a sucrose solution that has been proven to lower discomfort levels in infants. Now that she’s older, we just slather on the cream about 30 minutes before. Despite the fact that they have to take blood out of both arms in order to run all of the tests they need, she doesn’t even flinch when the needles go in.
To Talk or Not to Talk About It
Depending on your child, only you can decide if you should talk to your child beforehand about the process of drawing blood. Some children need to know what to expect, but others won’t be able handle the anxiety of waiting for what’s to come. Understanding your child and trusting your gut are important to helping your child cope with the experience. Let her bring her comfort blanket or toy, or have it on hand in your bag just in case.
As parents, we are saddened by what are children have to go through. But we aren’t weakened by it. Insist on the best care and your child will receive the best care. You just have to know what to ask for while getting a child through a blood draw.
Where Were You 29 Years Ago, Nancy?
After reading Nancy’s post, I have only one question: Where were you 29 years ago when our son was subjected to frequent blood draws? How I wish your advice had been available then! If you have more tips and tricks to get kids through a blood draw, please leave a comment. Anything to help our little ones suffer less fear and pain is appreciated!
Nancy Flanders is a wife and mother of two girls, one with cystic fibrosis. After her daughter’s diagnosis at just 6 days old, she altered her career path to focus on writing about raising a child with a special health need. She spends any free moment she can find fundraising for a cure for her daughter and volunteering for her hospital’s cystic fibrosis advisory group. Visit Nancy at www.chronicadmissions.blogspot.com and www.parentingsquad.com.
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