RCH operation and recovery room

  • This information is for children who are having an operation at The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne. If possible, any siblings of the child having the operation should stay at home or be cared for by someone else for the day. Usually, parents or carers can stay with their child who is about to have an operation until the child is asleep. After the surgery, you may be called in to the recovery room. Your child may be still asleep or already awake. When your child is awake enough, they will be taken to a ward. You can go with them.

    The preoperative holding bay

    • On the day of surgery, your child will be taken to the preoperative holding bay in the theatre suite. Two adults can be go them. Please try to leave other siblings at home.
    • In the preoperative holding bay, you can speak with the surgeon and the anaesthetist who will be caring for your child during the operation.
    • The pre-operative nurse will also ask some questions and check the consent form has been signed by the parents or carers.
    • The surgeon will give you an idea of how long the surgery will take. This is an estimate only and the operation may take longer. Please ask staff in the Theatre Reception to make enquiries on your behalf if you have any questions or concerns.
    • It is important that you tell staff where you will be waiting. You can wait in the waiting room, the ward or the Family Hub, or you can leave your mobile phone number with staff if you want to go for a walk or leave the hospital. You can also ask for a pager if you prefer.


    • Just before surgery, your child will be taken to the anaesthetic room in the theatre suite. One parent or carer can usually go with the child and stay until the child is asleep. The parent or carer will need to go back to the waiting room when the child is taken into surgery. Sometimes, for example in an emergency, parents or carers cannot go with their child to the anaesthetic room.
    • During the operation, the anaesthetist monitors your child and gives them medication for sedation (to keep them asleep) and to take away any pain.
    • If you can, have something to eat and drink while you are waiting during the operation. This can be very helpful to help stop you fainting or feeling unwell later.
    • When the operation is finished, the anaesthetic is stopped and your child is taken to the recovery room.

    Recovery room

    • The recovery room is staffed by trained nurses who specialise in looking after children postoperatively (i.e. after an operation). The nurse will call for you over the intercom in the waiting room and ask you to come to the recovery room so you can be with your child. If you are not in the waiting room, we will contact you by phone or pager.
    • No more than one or two adult visitors can come to the recovery room. If you have other children with you, they will not be allowed into the recovery room. You will need to make sure you have another adult with you who can supervise other children while you are in the recovery room.
    • After the operation, it is common for children to be restless and confused for a short while. They may also feel sick or vomit. They may have some pain, a headache, sore throat or soreness where the drip was put in. The nurse looking after your child can give some medicine to help.
    • The surgeon will speak to you after the operation. This might be in the waiting room before you see your child, it might be in the recovery room, or it will be on the ward.
    • It can be stressful for parents to be in the recovery room and they often feel faint and queasy. If this happens to you, please tell the nursing staff so they can help you.

    The ward

    • When your child is stable, a nurse will take them back to the ward where staff will continue to monitor them. You can go with your child.
    • Your child will then generally be able to start drinking clear fluids. Usually within a few hours they can start having other fluids and light meals.

    Key points to remember

    • Try to arrange someone else to look after your other children on the day of the operation.
    • It can be helpful for you to go for a walk or take some time out during your child's surgery. Make sure you leave your mobile number with staff, or ask for a pager to take with you.
    • You can usually stay with your child until they are asleep.
    • You will usually be called in to the recovery room when the operation is over.
    • Parents often feel faint in the recovery room - tell staff if you feel unwell.
    • You will meet several different people including the surgeon, anaesthetist, pre-operative nurse, theatre reception staff and the recovery nurse.
    • Always ask if there is anything you are worried about or unsure of.

    For more information

    • Be Positive: A child's guide to hospital: Surgery

    Reviewed January 2023.

    Developed by RCH Recovery Room.


This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.