Why Labor and Delivery Nurses Are The Real Heroes
All too often L & D nurses are bashed relentlessly. As with any profession, there are a few bad apples, but they get a bad rap in general. And, I think it may be due to a lack of understanding or appreciation for all the work they do.
I’ve been a practicing doula for about 3 years, and my success is built on the steady support, nurture, and guidance I have received from L & D nurses since my very first birth. For instance, they have taught me how:
· to unplug the monitors to help a mom get up and use the restroom or move around,
· to understand different decelerations and things to look for on the monitors, as well as understanding other hospital equipment and how it works- something overlooked in doula training!
· to use the bed stirrups like a peanut ball when there isn’t one readily available to get mom comfortable while she labors down
· that an alcohol pad will work when I forget my peppermint oil for nauseous moms, or a towel or sheet in place of a rebozo
Their nurturing has involved providing me with lots of towels, sheets, washcloths, and blankets. Some have made up the pull-out bed for me during a long birth so I could catch a nap. They have made constant trips for ice when I couldn’t get it myself. They have placed warm blankets over me when the room was too damn cold, and I was trying unsuccessfully to use my rebozo as a sweatshirt.
Now, take everything I just said and multiply it times 10 and that’s what a nurse does for every one of their patients. Sometimes the nurse is performing all of these tasks for 3 or more patients at once. Between charting and emergency cesareans, mothers with high-risk pregnancies, pre-term infants, and much more, these women try their damnedest to honor every part of the patient’s birth plan even though they are being pulled in many directions by doctors and patients in various stages of labor. Also, 99 percent of the time, they are following a doctor’s orders even when the physician isn’t in the building. Many birth professionals mistakenly think nurses can really control outcomes, but the reality is doctors gets the final say no matter what the nurse wants or advocates.
So, if the nurse appears to be short with you, please keep in mind that she might be rushing to the next room to the mom whose mid-uterine rupture on her attempted VBAC. The medical team has exactly 11 minutes to get the baby out via cesarean. Trust me, she isn’t trying to avoid you; rather, she is simply doing her best to make sure all patients have a safe and sound delivery while following 375 hospital policies and procedures that makes her job a lot harder to balance than we realize.
Believe me, no one wants the patient to have the birth of her choice more than the nurse. Nurses don’t like rushing the patient back for a cesarean. They get no joy out of patients having an episiotomy. They surely don’t want the patient to experience a 3rd or 4th degree tear. Nurses don’t receive financial incentives when patients have unhealthy birth experiences. If you don’t believe me ask any of them. They would much rather see the patient have an easy healthy delivery and quick recovery, if for no other reason than it makes their job easier.
Some words from some AWESOME L&D Nurses I know:
“I went into nursing to help people, I love helping people Although it becomes very frustrating when I am doing what I am educated, trained and 19 years experienced in doing to help people and someone acts like I am the enemy. I have one objective when I clock in..... to have healthy moms and healthy babies and smiles on everyone's faces. Good outcomes, no matter how they have to happen.
Sometimes I feel as if there is a good side and bad side to labor and delivery when patients come with a birth plan or doula.... When we work together on the same side, working as part of one team together for that family- the outcomes can be absolutely beautiful. We all have one common goal, and we have the best jobs working to bring new life into this world! Know that your nurses are on your side- we just also have the obligation to keep everyone healthy and safe.”
“I’ve always told my patients to tell me what their wishes are in private and I will do my best to accommodate them. Even if it’s being the “bad guy” and kicking unwanted family members out of the delivery room.” -Taylor, FL
“I would like everyone to know that the desire to give outstanding, compassionate care to every single patient is deep-rooted in the heart and soul of nearly every labor and delivery and postpartum nurse out there. We care about your story, your plans and desires surrounding your birth, and your emotional well-being. One of the biggest goals I have in caring for my patients is working with her other care providers and birth supporters as a well-rounded team to keep mom and baby happy, healthy, and without a traumatic experience. When everyone can have open communication during this cherished time, the better the outcome will be for mom, baby, and family.“ -Sarah, FL
”I wish my patients knew how invested i become in their birth story. How many times I've also cried silent tears of frustration when the birth doesn't go as planned or happy tears of joy when you meet your little one. I wish you knew how outside the doors of your room I'm polling all the seasoned and new nurses for any tips to help you get the best possible care. I wish you knew that sometimes we are balancing joy for you with the utter heartbreak of loss in the room next to you- and yes. Many times I am the nurse for you both. So don't take it too personal if I'm occasionally a bit subdued. I wish you knew how often I think of you and wonder how motherhood is treating you. My job can be complicated but the,patient's who truly open themselves up and let us in to be a part of their story make it so very worth the effort.” -Tiffany, FL