Being a labor and delivery nurse is a very intense job. First, an aspiring L&D nurse must acquire an associate’s degree and make it through an RN (registered nursing) program. After that, they have to get a job. Jobs can be hard to find because nursing is very competitive. Once they get the job, they are expected to help women through the labor and delivery process, assist surgeons with C-sections, and to help out if complications come up. They also have to keep an eye on the mother and baby and go over a list of newborn-parenting topics before the mother leaves the hospital.
Going into labor, future moms want the best L&D nurses by their sides. The best ones have experience and have seen it all. They have seen so many babies and lady bits. But their day isn't over because it is 6 pm.
Nurses do long, exhausting hours and countless overtime. But there are a few who have some dark secrets behind their cheerful smile and brightly-colored scrubs. They are judged just like the rest of us. They get hungry just like the rest of us. They need the bathroom just like the rest of us. So, if they feel like they need to gossip to get them through their day, let them be.
15 Not Their First Rodeo
While parents may be emotional and in awe of going into labor—especially if it is their first child—it is not the same experience for L&D nurses. For many nurses, it becomes a daily routine. Though this is not the case for all L&D nurses, it is understandable that they might feel this way.
Every day, they help deliver baby after baby. This does not mean that they do not try their best to make every delivery experience wonderful for each patient. It is their duty to make each and every new mom feel special about the miracle of birth. Some may even think that birth is still miraculous, but for some they cannot help but feel like another delivery, another baby.
14 Going Natural? Yeah, Right
While some nurses might think it admirable when a woman tries to “go natural”—no drugs, no epidural—a lot of the time they highly doubt it will last. Some nurses may even think that it is ridiculous to even try to go natural at all. They may even have a bet in the lunchroom about which mother asks for an epidural first.
Often, younger L&D nurses who have less experience with natural childbirth are more likely to prefer medicated delivery. A lot of nurses also prefer what they are used to, and with the majority of women choosing medicated delivery, that is what they are used to. When it comes down to it, women do not know if they will need pain medication or an epidural until they experience the pain. But these mamas are often stronger than they think.
13 Epidurals Are For The Weak
On the other end of the spectrum—from some L&D thinking that women going natural is silly and unrealistic—are the nurses who think getting an epidural is a sign of weakness. In the United States, however, getting an epidural is pretty common, so very few nurses think getting an epidural is out of the ordinary. Epidurals are the most common method or labor pain relief.
The drugs are administered through a catheter in the woman’s lower back. Because of this, it limits the amount of movement for the woman in labor. And forget about wobbling over to the bathroom! For women who choose not to have an epidural, they can move around the room much more freely and try different positions while they are in labor. For some nurses, epidural-free is the more admirable route to choose.
12 Snacks, Please
While it is not something women think of as they are rushing to the hospital because they are in labor, L&D nurses love snacks. Bring them cookies, chips, carrot sticks—anything—and an L&D nurse will be extremely helpful.
Because of their crazy work schedules, nurses do not find the time to grab a snack break or even a lunch break. They are constantly on their feet going from room to room checking up on women who are trying to have babies (and a lot of those women in labor are not very cheerful or polite, understandably so).
With all that running around, their appetites have to be through the roof. So, if one has the time and thinks of it, packing some snacks for their L&D nurses might be a good idea.
11 Sometimes They’re Jealous
There are quite a few labor and delivery nurses who have kids of their own, but because they work such crazy hours, they do not get to spend as much time with their children as they would like. Still, other L&D nurses cannot have babies. Constantly working around babies must be very difficult for some women if they cannot have a baby themselves.
We've all seen the Lifetime movies that paint a picture of the perfect couple bringing their first child into the world only to have it whisked away by an unstable and insatiably jealous nurse. While some nurses may be jealous of what a patient has, do not fear. The large majority of L&D nurses would not steal a baby and raise it as their own. Still, their insecurities may shine through at times during your labor if they are secretly longing to experience it themselves and feel you aren't appreciative of the experience.
10 Pain Med Revelation
Opioids—like morphine, fentanyl, and Nubain—are popular ways used to cope with pain during labor. However, opioids have some side effects—they can make a laboring woman drowsy and unbelievably numb—physically, mentally and emotionally.
They can be administered through an IV or with a shot. They are usually administered during the early stages of labor. The closer it is to the baby’s arrival, however, chances are it will be too late to receive an epidural. At this point, the pain really picks up the pace.
Interestingly enough, L&D nurses are more likely to see a cesarean section or an epidural if the woman already has some pain medication in her system. Pain meds are bound to make people a little loopy and perhaps even agree to things they would not have otherwise.
9 Pregnancy Prevention Can Be So Easy
Believe it or not, nurses can get a little jaded by their profession. It only takes seeing a few teens give birth to start leaning toward the belief that girls need to be put on birth control when they start menstruating.
But it's not just teens that nurses are worried about. They may also be overly worried about adults with big families. In this day and age, the average household has two kids. Thus, parents who decide to raise a basketball team are often frowned upon—even when they are entirely self-sufficient and can support those kids without outside assistance. It's a strange thing to think nurses would care this much about what another woman does with her body, but many have been known to cast judgment when they see the same woman come through the delivery doors time after time.
8 They Need The Bathroom, Too
If an L&D nurse is not hungry but is acting a little standoffish, it is likely that they need to pee. Just like L&D nurses often do not have snack breaks or lunch breaks, they do not have bathroom breaks either. Likely about 90% of the time, their bladders are screaming at them because they long for a bathroom break.
But, even if an L&D nurse desperately has to tinkle, it is also very likely they are dehydrated because—guess what—water breaks are hard to come by as well. Unfortunately, once a nurse gets some water, they will soon have to go to the loo again. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle for many L&D nurses.
7 It's Too Early
The majority of L&D nurses simply want what is best for their patients. While many moms are worried as soon as labor starts that they rush to the hospital, sometimes it is better if a woman takes her time getting to the hospital.
If a woman comes to hospital as soon as the symptoms of early labor show up, it increases the likelihood of doctors pushing things like epidurals, induction and cesarean sections. One way to combat this is to call the hospital for advice as to when to head to the hospital.
If a woman’s water breaks, it is time to head out to the hospital. Contractions may not have started, however, it is important for the team at the hospital to have a good look. They may induce labor if it takes too long. Occasionally, they will send moms home if they aren't at 4cm dilated, but they will ask you to come back if there is any pressure, pain or contractions usually the same day. Make sure you are aware of early labor signs before 36 weeks.
6 Labor Looks
Though the majority of nurses do not care what you look like, nurses do occasionally gossip. It is one of the only things they have to help them get through their shifts. Some delivery nurses admit that they, and other nurses, gossip about private parts—most likely grooming.
It is hard enough for a pregnant woman to even reach down there—so nurses should give these poor, pregnant ladies a break. It is hard being sweaty, having messy hair, feeling fat and not being able to see what downstairs looks like.
One would think that L&D nurses would be much more understanding. But try to remember that in the end, the L&D nurses are the ones wearing scrubs. Talk about unflattering.
5 Be Nice
When a woman goes to the hospital, they need to remember that their nurses are in charge of a lot of their care. In many cases, they run the show and doctors show up only when necessary. Nurses offer a service to patients, and many are underpaid and overworked. So, when given the opportunity, be kind and polite to L&D nurses.
No expecting mother would want to end up with a nurse that may be aggravated because mama was being a momzilla. Sure, the L&D nurses get it to an extent—women are in a lot of pain when they are in labor—but overall it is better to be on an L&D nurse’s good side. But, keep in mind that most delivery room nurses are not this spiteful.
4 Induction Issues
Just like L&D nurses worry doctors will push their patients towards epidurals and cesarean sections, nurses worry about doctors pushing patients towards being induced. Often times, a doctor will push towards induction if the mother has been in labor for a long time (or if they need to free up the room) even if it would be better for the baby to stay inside its mom a little bit longer.
Labor can be induced in many different ways. Prostaglandins are a synthetic form of hormones that will trigger dilation. Pitocin is another method to trigger labor via contractions, but can sometimes be risky for the mother and the baby. Rupturing the membranes, a Foley catheter or a cervical ripening balloon are other ways to induce labor and each carries risks. Before going to the hospital, be sure to research different forms of induction and reasons for them.
3 They’re Trying To Get Through Their Shift
Being an L&D nurse is hard work. They help women from the time they come into the hospital until the time they leave with a brand-new baby. It is their job to help women with possible complications. They also help surgeons during C-sections, watch over the mother and the child, provide postpartum care and teach new mothers about how to take care of themselves and their baby. That is not a short list of tasks.
Ideally, L&D nurses need to be polite, cheerful and sympathetic at all times. It is a lot to ask of people who are constantly on their feet, who often are starving and who regularly feel like their bladder is going to explode. Somedays, they are just trying to get through their shift to go out for drinks at the end of their day.
2 Need Another Job
Not all L&D nurses love their jobs. Just like everyone else, their days can be long, hard and frustrating—but that does not excuse behavior like this. Nurses at a naval hospital in Florida were fired after posting inappropriate photos to Snapchat involving the babies they worked with.
In one of the photos, a nurse was flipping off a baby and called it “a mini Satan.” Sure, one could have a pretty rough shift, but if that is what this nurse really felt, she could find a different field of work. In another photo, a nurse played with a baby “making it dance” to rap music. Let’s keep it professional, shall we? Thankfully, those involved were promptly fired. Also, not to worry, but a lot of L&D nurses do not feel this way.
1 They Have A Heart
Though it is crazy how much power an L&D nurse can have, keep in mind that most do what is best for their patients. In many cases, the nurse saves couples a lot of grief and heartache from losing a child, and also give a little baby a shot at living a good life with a family that loves them. While nurses are not doctors, they have extensive experience shadowing them and plenty have even delivered babies on their own when the doc didn't make it in time. Don't discount their experience and training.
At the end of the day, L&D nurses love what they do. When things work out, they will be happy with you. When things do not, they will be sympathetic to your cause. To many, it is more than just a job.