Chit-Chatting and Hungry in OB

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!

american nurse

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! ❤

Categories: Before, During, and After Pregnancy, For Patients..., Labor & Delivery

Tags: , ,

4 replies

  1. Such an inspirating piece! I saved it on my phone, titled “inspiration”.

    I am a mother of 3 who has finally decided to follow my heart and return to school and become a labor and delivery nurse.

    In my former life I was a parent educator, I had one child at the time born via csection and subsequently had two more babies via successful VBAC. Fortunately, I had the most AMAZING nurses in addition to a loving and attentive doula.

    The birth experience was so raw, powerful and life changing the second time around that I decided to become a doula when my middle child was six months old. Believe it or not, the first birth I attended was where I birthed my second child, and I was working with the same nurses that worked with me! And the best part, I was working with a VBAC mama.

    I watched the nurses with admiration and longed to be their place, but seriously doubted my ability to return to school.

    Fast forward 3 years, this time, it was me rocking in the tub with ripe belly, holding my nurses hand while my doula squeezed my hips. I remember at one point hugging onto Maria’s head and telling her I loved her. (She was also present at my first VBAC)

    Things got pretty scary, my son was stuck, they pushed the red button and a team of nurses came running in positioning me in a way I didn’t think my body could make. Maria looked right into my eyes and told me I had to use every ounce of power in me to push my baby out. Everyone was cheering me on while I sensed the fear and seriousness if what was happening. I pushed out my 10.5 lb 22 1/2 in long baby. ( I am barely 5ft tall). He was blue and had to be intubated. His arm was broken and spent nearly a week in the NICU. With the exception of one nurse, who happened to be a traveling nurse, everyone that took care of me and my baby was an angel.

    River, my last child is now nearly 20 months. I finally made the phone call three weeks ago, without hanging up this time! To speak with the nursing counselor. I’m a firm believer in “signs” and I’ve come across a few in these last few weeks that are guiding me back to school. Coming across your blog was heaven sent and the words you wrote will carry me through the challenging path that I am about to take.

    Thank you, so much for taking the courage to put your thoughts into words for the world to see. You are a talented and gifted writer and I’m positive, an amazing nurse.

    Blessings to you,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. At the hospital I am going to be delivering at, the experience is mixed. I’d say 3 out of the 4 nurses made me feel like they cared. Neither my OB, nor the doctor on duty at the hospital made/make me feel like I matter much, or at least, that my opinion doesn’t matter much or how I feel matters much. But all the nurses at the OB office and in the hospital make me feel like I am cared for and that I can trust them. The fourth nurse who I didn’t mention made me feel like I was cared for was more indifferent and a bit less reassuring, but not terrible, a staunch 5 out of 10.

    I realize this may be because my OB thinks I am “overreacting” about my symptoms and my conditions. The thing is I have a hard time getting it across to him that I did not experience any of the same things I am experiencing with this pregnancy with my last one. My daughter, who is now 3 years old, was induced at exactly 38 weeks. The labor was long and intensive, lasting 36 hours. I was in and out of consciousness during the entire process except for pushing her out. I would awake to gut wrenching, awful contractions and then next thing I’d know, be re-awakening to more! I was given high dosages of remifentanil. My family said I was talking nonsense, passing out, got a little irritable, and was not able to progress properly. They took the drugs out of my system before my daughter was ready to actually be born.

    As you can see then, I had no chance to start contractions on my own, lose my mucus plug even (or maybe I did and didn’t notice). I had no pre-labor symptoms at all other than a general sense of boredom, lethargy, nesting habits, and picas. My back hurt, but didn’t it always? My braxton hicks could be a bit aggressive, but I knew they were braxton hicks.

    With this pregnancy, I have been through the ringer. More severe morning sickness started it all off, so bad I was unable to really leave the bed most of the time without heaving and letting it all go. Dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, and memory problems also plauged me throughout my pregnancy, along with Gestational Diabetes and trombocytopenia. Now that I’m 37 weeks pregnant with my second child, a son, I am experiencing the following as of today:

    -Nausea (on and off)
    -Extreme Nesting
    -Very sore pelvis, hips, legs, and vaginal area
    -Contractions that take my breath away and seem to have some rhythm to them (not entirely consistent though).
    -Insomnia since the contractions started
    -Excessive leakage of discharge
    -Pinkish pieces of mucus being found in panties, and in the bathtub when I tried to take a warm bath, which DID NOT WORK by the way when it normally does. I just wanted to get out of there!
    -Fluctuating appetite

    Because of all of this, on top of the fact my son’s head seems very firmly lodged into my pelvis (he had already turned, but he is much lower now), I sucked it up after waiting 10 hours before visiting the Labor and Delivery for the third time this pregnancy. What I was told was that I was in pre-labor, and there was no telling how long that would last, so it was best to send me home and let me get comfortable. They told me my cervix wasn’t changing much after they did two checks, amniotic fluid test was negative, and it seemed my contractions were somewhat spotty again. Go figure…I dreaded being wrong and I was. I’m not sure if pre-labor is a step up from what I was being told when I had been sent home the last two times. I am just so confused this pregnancy because of all the new experiences and new feelings!!! I feel like an idiot when I show up because I’m worried that they think I’m just plain overreacting. I have tried so hard to be patient and be steady with this pregnancy, but when I don’t understand something that is going on with my body and it is alarming me, I go in. The first visit was because I thought I was having some awful contractions. Well, I was, but I was extremely dehydrated, and not far enough along to make the nurses suspect I would be delivering that day (I think I was 32 weeks).

    The second time, I couldn’t distinguish my braxton hicks from real contractions when they were combined with some nasty nausea (That was at week 35). I am just waiting it out. But in all honesty, I am confused. VERY confused. Am I fine? When will labor actually start? Are all these symptoms that I’m experiencing truly labor signs, or are they just trying to make me more comfortable by telling me it’s pre-labor? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, and my OB was quite tart with me at my last appointment because I had gone to the hospital again at 35 weeks for the nausea/contraction episode. Either that, or he is just not a really friendly guy (but I suspect both…I’ve been a bit disappointed in my OB choice this time.) My last OB got rude post pregnancy when I insisted the Mirena was causing me issues and he refused to take it out, but during pregnancy he did all the necessary tests and didn’t wait so long to check things out. I always felt my pregnancy was progressing properly with him. With this new OB, I don’t feel reassured, I don’t think I’m learning anything, and it has just left me with a lot of questions 😦 Either way, I enjoyed reading your post, but I thought I would get this off of my chest! It has certainly been an uphill battle for me, but I know that at least in the next 1-3 weeks, my little boy should be here. I am just going to have to wait until the inevitable water breakage I guess!


  3. I just wrote you this massive response from my phone and it didn’t post!!! So here goes again….

    Your feelings are very valid. I would express your concerns to your OB.

    You can have pinkish discharge or small amounts of bleeding after you have sex or you get a vaginal exam. But if you have to put on a pad for the bleeding, that’s not normal and I would show the pad to your physician or the OB nurse that is taking care of you.

    With each additional pregnancy that you have, your hip pain and vaginal pressure pain may get worse and worse. You want to make sure you don’t have a bladder infection, as that can sometimes cause pressure pain. And if your nausea is severe, talk to your doctor about prescribing something for the nausea, like Zofran. Eat frequent small meals throughout the day. Check to see if there is iron in your prenatal vitamins, as this can sometimes make people feel nauseated and you can try taking them at different times during the day.

    I know that 35 weeks sounds really close to 40 weeks, but it’s not. If your cervix hasn’t changed, then you’re not in active labor. You can have Braxton-Hicks contractions for weeks and weeks and weeks before you actually deliver. You should not be induced (which is where they make you go into labor) before 39 weeks if there is no medical reason. I don’t know if you have a medical reason, I don’t know if you will eventually have a medical reason, and I don’t know if you will go into labor all on your own. And I know this is difficult, but try to relax and know that this pregnancy wont last forever. Your baby is growing. Some babies are born at 35 weeks and do okay, and other babies do not do well at all. You don’t want to take that chance.

    Whoever put you in this position 😉 make them give you a foot massage or a back rub.

    Talk to your doctor. Tell him how you’re feeling. They’re human, and sometimes they don’t know when they’re being rude. But usually when you tell them how you feel they will listen, and open up, and maybe that will also help you.

    Do not ever ever feel like you can not call your physician or be assessed at a hospital if you think something is wrong. That is very important. Who cares if you go and you’re really not in labor, or if you were making a big deal about nothing? That’s okay. That’s our job. But I want you to go when you really have a concern. Your baby’s brain is growing right now!

    Whatever kind of contractions you are having, you will know it’s real labor if they get harder and start to get closer and closer. If you ever think your water breaks, you need to call your doctor and tell them.

    Did that help? Do you have any more questions? xx


  4. In both of my deliveries, I have been extremely grateful to my nurses. They are the ones who put ice packs on my feet and neck when they couldn’t draw blood and I was about to faint from needle pricks. The ones who calmed my first-time-young-mom nerves. They are the ones who let me sob and snot all into their scrubs as I endured the pain of the epidural while having intense contractions (even when I continued to apologize for crying!). They are the ones who brought me the simple turkey sandwich at 1:00am-4 hours after delivery-after I had been in the hospital for almost 24hrs and was starving. That “simple” sandwich my nurse told me was all she could find right then…was the best damn sandwich of my life.


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