Mum-Hack: Blood Tests and Needles

Published: 19th June 2018

To get to the hack I discovered, let me give you some background on how we got there. It all started two weeks ago, a routine check-up at the doctors with Mila, for what I initially thought was growing pains, turned our lives upside down.

Mila had a sore hip, which turned into a limp, with no sign of injury or bruising, so I decided to get her checked ‘just in case’. Our doctor is really lovely and very thorough, so I didn’t think too much of the time he spent checking her range of movement and asking lots of questions about her general health. It was when he announced that he was calling the hospital to speak to the paediatrician, that my red flags went up. During the call they discussed scans, x-rays and blood tests and my heart and mind started racing – WHAT’S GOING ON? I wanted to scream, but I was trying to keep calm for Mila’s sake. All Mila had heard was “blood test” and had burst into tears.

Staying optimistic, I asked hopefully ‘can we do these tests on the weekend, she’s fine for school tomorrow isn’t she?’

‘No, she’s not going to school tomorrow, I want these tests done urgently and you’ll need to come back in on Saturday to see me’. MY. HEART. SANK.

Fear of Needles

Mila's always been scared of needles and had bad fevers after all of her immunisations, so she was thrilled to have her 4yo immunisations as she knew it was the last she needed for a long time. I was keeping up the brave face for Mila, (meanwhile having an internal melt down about what might be) and I was desperately trying to find something for her to look forward to and offered up chocolate rewards (don’t judge) for after the blood tests, but the flood of tears kept coming. I was wracking my brain for something to calm her nerves, she’d never had a blood test before, but having always feared her immunisations, she was terrified and let’s face it, are there any kids who like needles?

Getting Her Ears Pierced

I then remembered Mila getting her ears pierced last year. She decided she was ready (I’d always told her it was up to her when she wanted to get them done, because it hurts) and was so excited, until it came time to actually get the needle through her ears and she had a meltdown. The lovely lady in the piercing shop suggested we go and get some cream from the chemist, apply to her ears and come back in an hour. We did and she had her ears pierced without any pain, at all!


Mum-Hack: Blood tests

If this magical cream could work for punching an actual hole through her ears, surely it would make a blood test less painful and scarey, surely! I reminded Mila of the magic cream we used on her ears and suggested we use it for her blood test the next day and she started to calm down.

  • This magical cream is called Emla cream, it’s an over the counter, topical anaesthetic that numbs the area, which you apply to the area 30mins-1hour prior.
  • First thing the next morning, Mila reminded me to put the cream on for her blood tests. I made a big deal of reapplying it every 30mins or so – I figured the theatrical placebo affect was just as important in calming her nerves and the actual numbing.

Crunch-time: The Blood Test

By the time we arrived at the pathology, Mila kept asking me to touch her arm while she looked away to see if she could tell when I was touching her. She couldn’t feel a thing and while she was still nervous about getting the blood test, she wasn’t overwhelmed.

We were taken into the room for the blood test and the two nurses were AMAZING!! They made such a fuss over Mila, telling her how brave she was having her first blood test, talked her through everything that was going to happen, made jokes and suggested she watch her favourite show on my phone – Legends. 

Needle went in, she didn’t even flinch! She asked if it was over a couple of times, and on the third occasion, it was completely done and I could see a wave of relief come over her. The nurses showered her in stickers, gave her a special certificate and announced she was their best patient ever. Mila was so proud of herself and walked around with her sleeve rolled up for everyone to see that she’d had a blood test and took the certificate to school to show her friends.

The Outcome 

I’m the mum who cried every time the girls had their immunisations, so I wish I’d known to use this magical cream! It takes away the sharp pain and gives them something special that they can feel actually working.

Two weeks on, we’ve finally been given the all clear on her dodgy hip. Without getting into all the details, it ended up being nothing nasty and just require two weeks of rest (not easy for a gymnastics obsessed 6yo), so I can finally breathe again. I'm probably late to the party on this hack, but just in case there's any other mums out there who, like me, didn't know about it, I wanted to share. I hope it helps you and your little ones feel brave too.

Sara x

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