Suctioning your child in public may produce some rude stares, mean looks or an unkind remark but when your child needs to be suctioned immediately you really have no choice. Imagine being in a quiet auditorium with your child and his classmates when you notice him making some funny breathing noises and you know his blood isn’t carrying enough oxygen. What do you do and what is the right thing to do in those circumstances? Here are a few guidelines for suctioning your child in public:

  1. Your child’s life is more important than what anyone thinks about you or your child. Many times suctioning your child is a matter of life or death. If your child needs immediate care, you shouldn’t worry about what anyone else thinks or if you’re disturbing someone. They’ll get over it. If someone comments simply let them know you needed to suction immediately and you are sorry if this inconveniences them. Most people are understanding and will acknowledge your needs. Some people won’t get it and that’s ok too.
  2. Make it quick and as quiet as possible. Suctioning machines tend to be loud. Even some of the newer models that claim to be quieter are still loud. This is amplified 10x when you’re the only one in the room making noise. You can minimize the disruption by making sure you are prepared to suction your child quickly by having everything you need out and ready to go. You can muffle some of the sound with a towel and keeping the machine in its bag or carrying case helps too.
  3. Think about others. Let’s face it, suctioning can be considered obnoxious to some people. It is noisy and a little gross. If you’re child isn’t in immediate need, and you can slip out without causing a scene, it’s usually better to suction in private. Some places are naturally loud and suctioning there won’t disturb anyone. Other places are more formal and suctioning could be considered rude. Use your common sense and don’t cause a disruption if you can help it. Some children won’t know how to react when they see you suction your child for the first time. Small children might be scared or worried. If you feel the disruption to others is too great, then by all means suction in private.
  4. Pick A Clean, Safe Place to suction. Sometimes you cannot pick where you will suction your child. Restrooms are not always clean and although they provide convenience and privacy, they usually aren’t the best area to suction your child. Use common sense about where you suction your child. Make sure it is as sanitary a place as possible for your child and also for others. Never suction your child in a food preparation area or restaurant unless you have to.
  5. Suctioning At School. Many students are allowed to suction in their classroom if it’s not too disruptive. If your child is in a special needs school or classroom, suctioning is a normal part of the day. If your child is mainstreamed into regular classes than you may need to discuss suctioning with your child’s teacher and the other students. Many school districts have guidelines about where you can suction and some leave that up to the school nurse.

Suctioning Your Child In Public

Before you suction your child in public, think about what the immediate needs are and consider the alternatives. Make sure you take your child’s feelings into consideration too. Your child may be old enough to communicate how he or she feels about suctioning in public. If not, you can get an idea how they feel by watching them and how they react to the situation. If your child appears embarrassed or angry you should consider their feelings and make sure when possible you suction your child privately. You may find your child doesn’t mind suctioning in some public places but not in others. This can be hard to recognize but try to consider how they feel about suctioning in different places and allow them to let you know when it’s ok.