Nurses are often the unsung heroes of health care; during birth, they are typically the ones supporting and tending to families the most! This week, in honor of National Nurses Week, we wanted to let birthing families know just how awesome your nurse can be during labor and birth, as well as provide you with some specifics on how you can utilize your nurse's support to enhance your experience.
Ideas & techniques - L&D nurses have seen a lot of births and know a thing or two about different ways to find comfort, ideal positions for back labor, and more. If you're stuck -- or scared -- buzz your nurse and speak up!
Access to creature comforts - If you need more of almost anything in your hospital room, your nurse will make sure you get it. You can never have enough towels, pillows, or chux pads.
Managing communication with your OB or midwife - Your nurse will be the one who reports to and contacts your care provider. If there's anything vital you want your provider to know or to ask, be sure to tell your nurse.
Running interference with visitors - Sometimes well-meaning friends and family can overstep their bounds in the hospital. A nurse is the perfect ally to run interference and ask visitors to leave on your behalf (without saying its you who wants them gone!).
Listening - Sometimes you just need someone to talk and vent to during labor and a nurse can be just the person for you.
Explaining - While a nurse doesn't always remember to automatically explain everything that's going on, she certainly can if you ask! Be sure to speak up and ask about a procedure or practice, machine or medication. A nurse can give you insight and information based on experience and knowledge.
Assistance with the basics - Need to maneuver 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!
As with anything, there are some things a labor and delivery nurse can't do, and it's important to know those as well. 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 lickety-split. More than likely, they cannot offer you food and drink from the hospital (other than water/ice) due to a no eating and drinking policy that most hospitals abide by (despite that this policy 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 how often you need to be monitored, so don't shoot the messenger!
It's important to treat your nurse as a fellow human -- with kindness, empathy, and understanding. And a plate of cookies, tray of snacks, or other treats goes a long way, too.