10 Things Neonatal Nurses Choose Not To Tell Parents (And 10 Things They're Not Allowed To)

Nurses are truly one of the reasons why the earth goes 'round. Without them, it’s without a doubt that we wouldn’t be able to function in our lives. That’s because nurses do so much more than what meets the eye. They are there for new mothers physically. They are also there emotionally. They share our joy, they feel our pain, and, most importantly, they want to make sure that we go home confident and positive that we’ve got this thing called motherhood down.

And while nurses, specifically neonatal nurses, are always on a new mom's side, there are specific things that they can and can’t do while they are with patients in the hospital. As much as they care about doing what’s right – and forgoing certain things from time to time – they have a job to do. That’s why we’ve got a list of 10 things that neonatal nurses choose not to tell parents and 10 things that they are just not allowed to do. Even though their heart tells them one thing, common sense tells them to listen to reason. People might be surprised by how many limitations they have. Take a look at our list below!

Let's start with the 10 things they choose to keep hidden before we look at the 10 things they're not even allowed to say...

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20 They Try Not To Get Emotionally Attached

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Being a neonatal nurse is not only a physically tiring job, but it’s also one that puts an emotional strain on many people, too. That’s because they are in the kind of position that allows them to get to know their patients, their history, and their family. As much as nurses try not to get emotionally attached, it’s not always easy. What makes nursing so unique is that they are in the business of taking care of people in a physical sense, but they also have to be there for you emotionally. The toughest part of the job is seeing a mother and her newborn child go home without knowing what’s next for them.

19 They Don’t Need You To Be Stressed Out

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It’s without a doubt that many first-time mothers are very stressed and anxious about the delivery of their babies. They want to make sure that everything will go as smoothly as possible. That’s why nurses make it their job to make sure that you don’t have to worry more than you have to. Sure, doctors often get the credit for making all of the crucial decisions, but neonatal nurses are there to make sure that they are another set of eyes and another set of hands. They want you to know they’ve got this and that they won’t let you down.

18 They Treat Each Baby As Their Own

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Some of the best nurses in the nation often share this same quality: They love their patients' babies the same way their parents do. After all, every baby is a blessing and deserves to be treated with the utmost care. Nurses understand that it’s part of their job to handle babies the same way they would handle their own children. Nurse Nancy Brown told Reader’s Digest, “Some jobs are physically demanding. Some are mentally demanding. Some are emotionally demanding. Nursing is all three. If you have a problem with a nurse or with your care, ask to speak to the charge nurse [the one who oversees the shift]. If it isn’t resolved at that level, ask for the hospital supervisor.”

17 The Bottlefeeding Dilemma

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When it comes to the breastfeeding-versus-bottle-feeding dilemma, nurses know exactly how you feel. They know just how much you want to breastfeed and how difficult and frustrating it might be when things don’t automatically go your way. And if you opt to bottle feed your child, nurses aren’t the kind of people who are about to pass judgment on you. As a matter of fact, they are going to support and encourage you, no matter what you decide to do. After all, a happy baby is a well-fed baby and every parent can agree to that. There’s no reason to make anyone feel bad.

16 All Of The Physical Stress They Have To Endure

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Nurses don’t want you to know about all of the physical stress that they have to endure throughout their shift. Not only is their shift often ten or more hours per day or night, but they are also expected to be on their feet during that entire time, too. To say that it’s not easy would be an understatement. In other words, they are more tired than they look! One nurse from Texas told Reader’s Digest, “No matter how worried I am, I’ll say calmly, ‘Hmmm, let me give the doctor a call and have him come look at that.’”

15 Their Job Isn’t As Stable As You’d Think

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There’s the notion that nurses have got it made. Once they have a position at a hospital, they are set for life. But that’s not always the case. Nursing isn’t the stable position that everyone thinks it is. Some people come, other people go. In other words, there’s always someone coming and going through those revolving doors at your local hospital. Linda Bell, an RN, tells Reader’s Digest, “It can be intimidating when you see a physician who is known for being a real ogre make a mistake. Yes, you want to protect your patient, but there’s always a worry: Am I asking for a verbal slap in the face?”

14 The Overwhelming Pressure They Feel In The NICU

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A lot of nurses agree that they feel overwhelming pressure when they are in the NICU. That’s because they know the babies that are under their care need supervision 24 hours a day. Anything can change within seconds. Also – believe it or not – nurses can be mean to one another. Theresa Brown, RN, an oncology nurse and the author of Critical Care, puts it this way, “In my first nursing job, some of the more senior nurses on the floor refused to help me when I really needed it, and they corrected my inevitable mistakes loudly and in public. It’s a very stressful job, so we take it out on each other.”

13 They Believe In Miracles

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Yes, nurses do believe in miracles, contrary to popular (or scientific belief). Barbara Dehn, RN, a nurse practitioner in Silicon Valley who blogs at nursebarb.com, says, I once took care of a child who [had a serious problem]. The odds that he would wake up were declining, but I had read that the sense of smell was the last thing to go. So I told his mom, ‘Put your perfume on a diaper and hold it up by his nose to see if it will trigger something.’ The child woke up three hours later. It was probably a coincidence, but it was one of my best moments as a nurse.”

12 Dealing With Ethical Issues

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Here’s a tricky thing that many nurses don’t often talk about out loud, but definitely think about often. They deal with ethical issues on almost a daily basis. They also don't like being blamed for things that are totally out of their hands. A nurse named Theresa Brown told Reader’s Digest, “Every nurse has had a doctor blame her in front of a patient for something that is not her fault. They’re basically telling the patient, ‘You can’t trust your nurse.’” At the end of the day, it’s part of their job and their paycheck and that’s why it’s very important for nurses to maintain a high level of professionalism at all times.

11 Sometimes They Feel Underappreciated, Too

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This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but nurses feel very underappreciated, too. And that’s not because the doctor gets all of the credit, the recognition, and sometimes, even the awards. And it’s not because of the differences between a doctor’s salary and a nurse’s salary. Instead, it’s because the general population just doesn’t understand how demanding the job is. Linda Bell told Reader’s Digest, “If you have a really great nurse, a note to her nurse manager that says ‘So-and-so was exceptional for this reason’ will go a long way. Those things come out in her evaluation—it’s huge.”

10 Ask For Second Opinions

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A lot of doctors might not say this out loud, but your nurse will. In fact, he or she might be the first person to suggest it. When in doubt, ask for a second option. Don’t be scared! Remember, those that work in the medical field are human beings, too. Even though they are often very well-qualified for the job, that doesn’t mean they know what to expect next. When in doubt, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to ask another medical professional or doctor for a second opinion before proceeding with your labor and delivery plans. Being prepared and well-informed is always the best plan.

9 They Are Given More Meds Than Ordered

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Believe it or not, many nurses are given more meds than what they initially ordered. While no one knows what happens afterward, many nurses say that it’s a long and lengthy process they wish they didn’t have to deal with. One long-time nurse told Reader’s Digest in an interview, “When a mother or a patient is ill, sometimes the doctor won’t order enough pain meds. If the patient is [having a rough time], we’ll sometimes give more than what the doctor said and ask him later to change the order. People will probably howl now that I’ve said it out loud, but you have to take care of your patient.”

8 The Nurse Might Look Calm, But…

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A lot of people think that nurses are just like superheroes. They might look like they are calm or that they carry a tough demeanor, but inside, they worry just as much as the next person in the room. Another nurse from Texas told Reader’s Digest, “I’ve had people [have issues with] arteries in front of me, where I know the patient could [have serious problems] within minutes. I’ve had people with [extremely serious medical situations]. No matter how worried I am, I’ll say calmly, ‘Hmmm, let me give the doctor a call and have him come look at that.’”

7 Timing Is Everything

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Nurses are the first people to admit that timing is everything. As a matter of fact, every half second counts in the labor and delivery room. Nothing is certain until that baby takes his or her first breath. Also, don’t expect a nurse to tell you the information that you want to hear. They leave that up to the doctors, as it’s their job to relay any concerns. Gina, from Codeblog.com, says, “If you ask me if your results or your babies have come back yet, I may say no even if they have, because the doctor is really the best person to tell you. He can answer all your questions.”

6 Don’t Lie About Your Physical Pain

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If a nurse asks you if it hurts and it hurts, don’t try to hide your pain. Yes, everyone wants to believe that they have the stamina and the pain threshold to endure 20 hours of hard labor and pushing, but when it comes to your team of nurses, don’t feel like you have to impress them. Regardless if you do it with pain meds or without, you will earn your tiger stripes, either way, mama. A New York City nurse told Reader’s Digest, “If you’re happily texting and laughing with your friends until the second you spot me walking into your room, I’m not going to believe that your pain is a ten out of ten.”

5 All The Red Tape They Deal With

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Neonatal nurses have to record every little thing that happens to both you and your baby and yes, it’s a very tedious process they have to deal with. In other words, that red tape is there for a reason and they must abide by hospital rules at all times. Sometimes, it’s mostly a lot of administration and computer work they have to do before they check up on you. A neonatal nurse from California told Reader’s Digest, “We spend hours at the computer just clicking boxes. They tell us, ‘If it wasn’t charted, it didn’t happen.’ So, I always chart with a jury in the back of my mind.”

4 What I’m Thinking Behind My Smile

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A lot of nurses agree that it’s their job to make you feel as comfortable as possible. After all, you are about to give birth to one of life’s greatest joys! But at the same time, they don’t want you to think their ‘nice persona’ should be taken advantage of. A neonatal nurse from San Jose, California told Reader’s Digest, “No matter how many times you use your call light, even if it’s every ten minutes, I will come into your room with a smile. However, if you don’t really need help, I will go back to the nurses’ station and complain, and this may affect how the nurses on the next shift take care of you.”

3 This Is A Hospital, Not A Hotel Room


Here’s another gripe that many nurses have, but don’t get to talk about out loud. They want you to remember that you are in a hospital and not a hotel room. That means you shouldn’t be bothering them with little, menial things like turning up the volume on the television or to get someone to fluff your pillows and bathroom towels for you. A hospital is not a place to take a vacation. It’s where tiny little humans are born and where doctors and nurses work around the clock to save lives. Nurses don’t want you to confuse these two places.

2 Your Life Is In Their Hands

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Nurses know that your life is oftentimes in their hands and that’s why they take their jobs and their roles in the labor and delivery room very seriously. Yes, they have your best interests at heart every day. A nurse from Pennsylvania told Reader’s Digest, “We question physicians’ orders more often than you might think. Some of the mistakes I’ve headed off: a physician who forgot to order a medication that the patient was taking at home, a doctor who ordered the incorrect [meals] for a diabetic, and one who tried to perform a treatment on the wrong patient.”

1 Don’t Ever Say ‘You Are Too Smart To Be A Nurse’

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Whatever you do, don’t offend a nurse, her history, her background, or why she’s even in the hospital, to begin with. Nurses have seen a lot during the course of their work. They’ve certainly done a lot and have heard plenty of stories, too. But if there is one thing that you should never, ever say to a nurse, it’s this: “You’re too smart.” Or rather, “You are too smart to be a nurse.” A nurse from Texas told Reader’s Digest, “I went to nursing school because I wanted to be a nurse, not because I wanted to be a doctor and didn’t make it.”

Source: Reader’s Digest, WebMD, Critical Care: A New Nurse..., CodeBlog, Reader’s Digest Canada

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