Spoiler alert: your L&D nurse has been through a lot of births.
A labor and delivery nurse's experience is invaluable, and her support can be a great boost throughout your own experience of labor and birth. Of course, as with anything in life, you could get a nurse who's having a bad day, who doesn't really like her job, etc., but in general your labor and delivery nurse is there to help and will do so in the best way possible. On National Nurses Day, we want to give a shout out to all the amazing L&D nurses around the world by saying a wholehearted "thank you" and by sharing a few tips for parents.
What You Need to Know About Your Nurse During Birth
Your nurse is there to help. Your nurse's job is to provide you with great care during your stay, as well as do everything possible to keep you and your baby safe. If you go into your experience expecting the best and treating your nurse the way you'd like to be treated (you know, the golden rule?), you're more likely to get the care and experience you hope for. (If you don't, you can always politely ask to be transferred.) Of course, it's also your nurse's responsibility to uphold hospital rules and regulations -- if you're unable to do or have something the way you want, it likely has way more to do with the hospital you choose rather than the nurse you're assigned. Do your best to learn as much as possible before choosing your hospital.
Your nurse is an incredible resource! She sees a lot (a whole lot) of births -- use her depth of knowledge to your advantage! Ask questions! Ask for help! Let her know if you want something different. Let her know what's working for you and what's not. Ask her what positions she would recommend to ease back labor. Nurses can help with coping tips, information about procedures and different choices, getting the comfort items you need, information for partners, and more. In most cases, your nurse cannot provide continuous care (but a doula can!) due to needs from other patients, but you can still rely on your nurse for quality support and information. If you're stuck, scared, or in need, buzz your nurse and speak up!
Your nurse is there for the basics, too. Need to maneuver getting to the bathroom with an IV attached? Or unhook from the monitors? A change of gown or chux? Help getting into the shower? Adjusting your bed? A nurse is like the Swiss Army knife of support -- there's nearly no end to what they can do! And, if you need more of almost anything in your hospital room (or forgot something from home), your nurse will help you get it.
Your nurse can be part agent, part bodyguard. She will be the one who reports to and contacts your OB or midwife. If there's anything you want to tell or ask your care provider, tell your nurse. She can also run interference with visitors. Sometimes well-meaning friends and family can overstep their boundaries and overstay their welcome in the hospital. A nurse can ask visitors to leave on your behalf -- without ratting you out!
Nurses are human, too. Nurses rejoice with birthing families and grieve when something goes wrong. Nurses have bad days. Nurses have personalities. Don't feel intimidated by your nurse, but rather view her as a partner in your experience -- approach her with questions and concerns freely. And, if you're not having a good experience with your nurse, kindly speak to someone in the nurse's station and request to be reassigned to a nurse who may be a better fit. It's important to treat your nurse as a fellow human -- with kindness, empathy, and understanding.
Nurses aren't responsible for everything. As with anything, there are some things a labor and delivery nurse can't do, and it's important to know those things. They cannot be with you 100% of the time, and sometimes, due to more pressing needs from other families in labor, they may not get back with you as quickly as you would like. They may not offer you food and drink from the hospital (other than water/ice) due to a no eating and drinking policy that many hospitals still observe (despite that it is not evidence based). Also, your nurse is not responsible for things like how long it takes for an epidural to be put in place, when your OB or midwife arrives, or whether you're monitored intermittently or continuously. Generally, your nurse administers procedures that are directed from your care provider.
Nurses appreciate compliments (and cookies). If you have a wonderful experience with a nurse, let her know. Many nurses get hear plenty of complaints when things don't go well, but don't always hear back when things do go well. Tell your nurse how she helped and what you liked about her care. Of course, a tray of cookies/donuts/snacks go a long way, too.
Happy National Nurses Day - thanks to the amazing L&D and postpartum nurses!
TagsLabor Support National Nurses Week National Nurses Day Labor and Delivery Nurse