At our monthly support group meeting last night, a mom was asking for advice on her child's upcoming RAST. They had such an awful experience in the past and this mom was trying to find a reputable lab with experienced staff who would make it as painless as possible (for both of them). She's definitely not alone. I felt the same way last year.
So what's a mom (or dad) to do?
What's the best way to prepare your child for a blood draw and possibly try to make it a (gasp!) semi-enjoyable experience? Who am I kidding? How about just getting through it without too many tears and permanent emotional scarring?
Here are some suggestions I found online for preparing for an upcoming draw (are the wrong? are they right? who knows!?!):
- Heat packs applied to the crook of the arm can help to dilate the veins (which results in an easier target for the draw).
- Make sure your child is well hydrated prior to the draw. It increases volume in the veins, which helps phlebotomists find the vein more easily.
- Take your child when you donate blood - you can explain the process to them and show them that it may hurt just a bit at first but that it only lasts a second and that they'll be ok.
- Don't be afraid to ask for another person if they just aren't getting a vein by the second try (see the first link below for a great way to address this possibility before it even happens).
- Ask your pediatrician to do the draw themselves (yeah, uh, I don't think B's pediatrician would do this - she's super cool too)
- Ask for numbing cream (EMLA) to apply to the arm 30 minutes before the draw to avoid some pain with the needle stick.
- Bribery (heck, a big ol' lollipop and pinwheel worked wonders for B). Of what I've read it's really important not to dangle a treat in front of your child and promise it only if they don't cry. I think the stress of the experience is enough to make you weepy, let alone the actual needle in your arm.
A few other sites to check out:
What's your advice? How do you get through blood draws?