In a hospital, there are many different units, and each unit takes care of different types of patients. But labor and delivery is like an alternate universe. There is something strange and mystical about OB. Most labor nurses are, of course, women. And most of these women are opinionated, driven, and aggressive. You either like labor and delivery, or you don’t. There’s not really an in-between. Labor and delivery nurses have a lot of control, more than most patient’s realize. They have the ability to shorten or prolong your labor. You may think you know your OB physician, but your labor nurse realllllly knows them. One of the worst doctor’s I ever knew was so nice to his patients! They all thought he was so wonderful. They would swear that he saved their life, or the life of their unborn baby. He would even sit at their bedside and hold their hand! If they only knew!
Your labor nurse knows if your doctor panics quickly, or stays calm when things get crazy, and this will alter the way your labor nurse talks about you to him. Your nurse has a lot of influence over whether or not you will end up with a cesarean delivery. How good your labor and delivery nurse is will depend on whether or not you push 3 hours or labor down and push for 3 minutes. And patients usually form some sort of special bond with their labor nurse. When you’re admitted to a labor unit to give birth, you’re all excited and scared and nervous. Some people are very anxious and don’t know what to expect. So many things are happening to you and you’re not quite sure what any of the wires do or what they’re for. You have to trust that your nurse is watching your baby’s heart rate and your contraction pattern. You trust her to help relieve your pain. There’s something about giving in and letting go, allowing someone to see you completely as you are. I mean, most women don’t let their husbands look at them completely naked, with the room lit up (especially with florescent lighting!), much less complete strangers that they only just met. And then there’s vaginal exams and foley catheters and pushing. You want my knees to do what?!? How can anyone feel comfortable when someone says “put your feet together and relax your knees?” When the nurse inserts a foley catheter, she’s staring intently at your vagina while you pretend to not be feeling totally uncomfortable. She’ll make small talk to help ease your anxiety. Your labor nurse will see your stretch marks and any pudge you have going on and she wont even bat an eyelash. She will chit-chat when you’re admitted, she will guide your breathing when you’re in pain, she will alter your position to make you and your baby more comfortable.
Your nurse will smile and be focused, even if she hasn’t gotten lunch or even gotten to go to the bathroom, and she will make you feel like you’re her only patient, even though you probably aren’t. If your baby comes out pink (our favorite color) and crying (our favorite sound), she will smile and laugh and take pictures of your husband cutting the cord. And if the baby comes out blue and silent and floppy, she will stay calm and assist with resceusetating your baby. And when the baby begins to pink up and cry and she’s finally able to place your baby across your chest, you will not be able to hear her heart racing and you won’t know it was beating so hard she could hear it pulsating in her own ears. And then she will walk out of your room, lucky to not be splattered with blood or amniotic fluid, and maybe she’ll get to throw something into her mouth before she gets her next patient.
All in a days work!
Until my next delivery! ❤