In Praise of Labor and Delivery Nurses

I have delivered three babies.  It just doesn’t seem possible. Sometimes I feel like I could still be a cool college student with a carefree lifestyle…and then a glob of peanut butter or bubble of snot lands on my shoulder and I’m quickly snapped back to reality.  Even though some days are hard (and long!) I am so grateful for my babies and the experience of bringing them into this world.

When I had Evie nearly four years ago, I had no idea what to expect.  After laboring at home for the better part of 20 hours, I went in to the hospital hoping for a natural, drug-free delivery.  When I explained my intentions to the resident, she rudely brushed me off and said, “call me when you change your mind.”  Humpf!  I felt very alone in my birth plan…until Nurse Amanda came in the room.

Amanda didn’t seem at all bothered by the prospect (and extra work) of an unmedicated patient.  Childbirth is exquisitely painful, but she helped me remain calm and patient and focused during the entire process.  Even though Amanda had likely attended hundreds (thousands?) of births, she made us feel like we were her most important patients.  Thanks in large part to Amanda’s guidance and expertise, I showed that snooty resident a thing or two about making assumptions…!!!

Any laboring mother in the hospital quickly understands that the nurses are the real bosses.  Yes, the doctor plays a very important role in the delivery of a baby, but the doctor tends to show up towards the end of the process.  The labor and delivery nurse guides and cares for her patient from start to finish.  The nurse fetches ice chips…and administers pain relief.  The nurse brings fresh linens…and monitors vital signs.  The nurse can make the experience more comfortable, secure and joyous for mother, father and baby.

With the delivery of Vivian just two weeks ago, I was blessed with a wonderful nurse named Dana. As I did with my first two babies, I let the staff know that I desired a drug-free delivery.  Fortunately for me, Nurse Dana worked as a doula before switching to nursing, and her past experience really helped me through the toughest moments. She set up a warm bath (“the midwife’s epidural,” according to Dana), and her gentle encouragement and unending support made all the difference.  Despite the sudden inducement and Pitocin, I’d say Vivian’s delivery was the easiest one yet. Thanks to my nurse!

After each delivery I sent thank-you notes to the nurses and aides who made my delivery and postpartum stay comfortable and safe.  I hope they always know that their work is appreciated and important.  They help bring new life into the world – what a gift!

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Written by Maureen

More posts by: Maureen

4 Comments for this entry

  1. This was such a refreshing tribute! So often L&D nurses get bad-mouthed, and while we did have maybe 1 during each of my deliveries that wasn’t so hot, the rest were incredible. Especially when my 2nd labor was fast & furious and I was determined to go drug-free, they were so supportive – and even encouraged us to go home early because baby & I were doing so well!

  2. Erica says:

    I had two nurses in the 4.5 hours I was in labor and then one after delivery to get me out and into the recovery room. The first was an older woman who was very sweet and calming, then once I was pushing she went to lunch and I had a new nurse who was probably around my age and much more amped up. She got my bed in this upside downish position and got me pushing. We had to call the first nurse (who said there was no way I would deliver before her lunch was up) back from lunch and barely had time to get the doctor to deliver Jax because of her encouragement. The final nurse was from Oklahoma and had a wonderful sense of humor and was the perfect person to have as I was trying to get myself together after my first experience birthing. We joked about football and she shared her own personal experience of using her daughter only a few months before.

    Each nurse I had was perfect for the time. It was only when everyone left me alone that I lost my focus and ended up getting an epidural (at 10cm . . . not a great time to get an epidural I’ll tell you) because I just couldn’t get my breath together. I think if I had had the second nurse at that time she would have got me through it without the epidural but in the end little Jackson was born and I couldn’t have been a more blessed new mom.

    you can read my birth story here: http://chalkanddot.com/2011/01/14/welcome-jackson-riley/

    I appreciate all of the L&D nurses out there who each and everyday help women through such a life changing event. I can’t wait to hopefully do it again!

  3. Amanda Z says:

    I had an emergency c-section at 23 weeks, and for the entire time I was in the hospital was surrounded by the best nurses one could imagine. My transport nurse (who left a small hospital where I was first admitted and traveled 30 minutes by ambulance with me to a larger hospital with a high-risk OB and NICU) was incredible. Too bad I was so drugged I don’t remember her name. I could not have asked for better care.

  4. Mandie says:

    Thank you so much for posting something positive about the nursing staff you encountered. As a nurse myself my blood boils when I read blog postings bashing nurses as a whole. I am not saying that all nurses are wonderful, because just as in everything, there are a few bad apples. However, almost all of us got into the profession because we cared about others, and we are doing our best to do that within all of the laws and regulations that have taken over healthcare. So thank you, from a nurse who is extremely appreciative for a positive word.

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