Each labor and delivery is a unique event, and it can go in a variety of ways. But there is at least one thing that all deliveries seem to have in common: at some point, it's going to be awkward.
Childbirth involves lots of body parts and bodily fluids, emotions and expectations, family tension, and so much more, and the nurse witnesses all of it. She encounters every kind of parent with very diverse styles and situations, but they all go through a common process. The nurse is the one who has to tell a woman if she didn't actually have her water break or if her family members have to get out of the delivery room. She sees the emotional highs and lows and the frightening times when medical issues come up. It might be awkward, but the nurse is usually the mom's rock under the circumstances. She takes it all in stride.
Some of these entries are awkward because of the risk to the mom and the baby, while others are more personal and embarrassing. But they all are situations where the nurse has to step in when she would rather not have to. Here are 20 awkward delivery situations every nurse dreads.
20 Telling Mom It Wasn't Her Water...
At the end of pregnancy, all moms-to-be anticipate the moment that their water breaks. It usually doesn't happen before the labor begins, but it does sometimes. Moms anticipate that feeling, but sometimes it isn't the amniotic fluid that sends them rushing to the hospital.
A lot of women deal with incontinence during pregnancy, and the last month or so of pregnancy can be the hardest. Even women who haven't had a problem until 40 weeks or so might have some unexpected leakage of urine. The doctor's office and the hospital have tests that can determine if it's the right kind of fluid that means that the baby is on the way, but sometimes the nurse has to tell the mom that it wasn't actually her water.
19 Moms With Five-Page Birth Plans
One of the most awkward moments comes early after the mom arrives at the hospital. It's not that nurses don't appreciate birth plans — they actually like that moms take the time to think through the birth experience and research their options at each step. But some moms take it to an extreme.
The best birth plans are simple and flexible. They don't need to be really long because that just complicates an already difficult process. It's easier for the nurse to help a mom experience the birth she wants if she keeps it simple, yet allows for the many complications that can come up during the delivery.
18 When The Cord Comes First
There are a number of complications that can change everything during childbirth, and sometimes they can come out of nowhere. One of those is when the doctor or nurse feels the cord first. That can happen as soon as the water breaks or later, and it can be a very frightening moment.
Cord prolapse can mean that the baby would cut off her own oxygen supply during the delivery. It creates an emergency where the doctor will have to hurry up and get the mom in surgery. The nurse might even have to hold the baby back to make sure that the cord doesn't get compressed before it's too late.
17 Suggesting A New Position
Labor is a really difficult process, and it's hard to fully understand it going into the hospital. For some, no matter how much a woman has read about labor techniques, it can be hard to think outside of the hospital bed. Moms might think that they have to hire a doula to get other suggestions, but nurses are pretty knowledgable and helpful... if only moms would listen.
Moms might be resistant to squatting or using a labor and delivery ball, but they can allow gravity to help the baby move into the birth canal. Moms with back labor might be helped by other positions. It can be awkward to describe, but nurses can make a big difference when they suggest a new position for the mom to labor in.
16 The No. 2 Situation
The number one fear of many women before they give birth involves No. 2. Quite often, when a woman tries to push her baby out, the process makes some poo come right along with it. Moms can't imagine the awkwardness, but nurses don't really mind.
There are a lot of bodily fluids and things that can come out during labor and delivery, so this is just another part of the process. Most nurses are efficient enough to clean up any mess before the mom even notices that she has done it — and they won't admit it to the mom afterward. It's not as awkward as some moms might expect.
15 When It's Really Early
For nurses, certain delivery situations can be awkward because they know a lot more than the mom about what can go wrong, and they want to be optimistic but also realistic. That's especially true if the baby is coming really early. While breakthroughs give hope to parents of babies born as early as 24 weeks, it's still a really precarious moment.
While the doctor tries to delay the delivery, the nurse is tasked with helping answer questions and assuage fears, but she also knows the best and the hardest of what can happen. It's nearly as difficult for the nurse as for the mom, but she feels a special privilege to be there and help a woman in her time of need.
14 When The Doctor Is Distracted
All healthcare professionals can have a hard time during delivery, and that can include the doctor. Sometimes he can have several difficult cases going on at once, and that can make it hard to be at his best for the mom in the room. That can make the nurse's job even more difficult.
Moms have lots of questions during childbirth, but sometimes the doctor doesn't take the time needed for her to understand what is going on and what the safest options are. That leaves it to the nurses to try to make sure the mom feels comfortable in her knowledge and her decisions. That can be awkward, but it happens more than nurses would want.
13 When The In-Laws Won't Leave
The birth of a new member of the family is exciting for everybody, and often the grandparents-to-be want to be a part of the birth experience. But that isn't always the most comfortable situation for the mom going through a very personal and vulnerable experience.
Sometimes the mom tries her best to accommodate other family members and let them be in the delivery room, especially her in-laws. But the nurse has to be the enforcer, sometimes stepping in to ask people to leave when they are making things harder. It's awkward, but nurses understand and are willing to take the heat so that the mom is more comfortable.
12 The Induction Conversation
Any time that a woman has to make a medical decision during the delivery, things can get awkward. Some women don't like the idea of C-section, but usually, if that is coming up there is a major emergency and it doesn't take long to get on board. The induction conversation can be more difficult.
Sometimes that happens at the doctor's office, if it happens because of a medical issue or the mom is past her due date. But at the hospital, it comes up if the labor isn't progressing as expected. That might mean that the mom is in pain already, so explaining why she needs to have more can be an issue. Nurses are often the mom's sounding board, so they are in an awkward position to help the mom make the best decision.
11 Uncontrollable Crying
Childbirth can be really emotional, and nurses are prepared to be there through the ups and downs. But sometimes a mom might be surprised by how much crying they do. They might feel awkward, but it's almost always nothing that a nurse hasn't seen before.
It's not just the things that happen during the birth, but it's also about the extreme hormones that rage through a woman during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period, all clashing together in a very short period of time. Moms can cry out of fear, and they can cry through the pain. They might cry for joy when the big moment arrives. There can be a lot of tears, but nurses come equipped with lots of tissues.
10 When The Dad Makes Every Decision
Every family has a different dynamic and that is okay. But when a mom is going through the emotional and painful journey of childbirth, nurses find it awkward when the dad domineers and makes all the decisions. Unless there is a medical reason for dad to need to step up, the mom is the patient, and the nurses will back her.
Dad can be an important part of the experience, but in the end, what's happening is all about the mom. It's her body that is going through the pain and her body that sustained the baby before and after the birth. Nurses want to make sure that their needs are met and their voice is heard.
9 When Mom Didn't Know She Was Pregnant
A lot of women can't imagine going through nine months of pregnancy without knowing that they have a baby on board. But it happens, and most nurses have probably had a case where a woman arrived at the hospital totally unprepared and flabbergasted to become a mother.
That's an even bigger adjustment than a normal mom-to-be will experience in a few hours, and nurses have to be there through the stages of astonishment, guilt and the good and the bad reactions. It can be awkward at moments, but the nurse will be there to get them through and figure out how to give birth and become a mom.
8 Sometimes Fighting Happens
Childbirth is pretty dramatic on its own, but sometimes things get even more out there. While the mom's emotions are on edge, so are the other members of the family. That might mean that a fight breaks out.
Most of the time, it's a verbal spat between the mom and dad or one of the guests. The nurse might have to help defuse the situation. But occasionally fisticuffs break out, and that can be really off-putting. The nurse might have to call security and have someone barred from the delivery room. It's not ideal, but it happens in a high-pressure situation.
7 When The Gender Reveal Was Wrong
A couple of generations ago, just about every parent was surprised to learn if the baby was a boy or a girl in the delivery room. That doesn't happen that often these days, since the majority of women learn the baby's gender during their ultrasound — and many have a big party to announce it to their friends and family.
Occasionally, though, the ultrasound is wrong. Sometimes, the baby is in a poor position or the cord or some other thing can block part of the image. That can be awkward for the nurse, especially if the mom comes in with all pink or blue and has a name all picked out. But they can help the mom get prepared and bond with the baby no matter the gender.
6 When The Anesthesiologist Takes Too Long
Once a woman has decided to have an epidural, she wants to get pain relief right away. But that doesn't always happen. Anesthesiologists administer the epidural, not the regular OB-GYN, and sometimes those doctors are tied up with other emergencies in the hospital.
In the meantime, moms have continued contractions, and that can mean it can take a few hours until they feel relief. Some moms start begging for help, and that can be awkward for the nurse who has no sway on when the anesthesiologist arrives. But she can help in other ways to help the mom feel a little more comfortable and in control.
5 Sending Mom Home
Figuring out when to go to the hospital can be harder than a mom-to-be might think. They are warned about Braxton Hicks contractions, but they can still be concerning. And when the baby's health is in question, a lot of moms show up earlier than they need to.
Early labor can last for days, and moms might beg to be admitted and given an epidural, but the nurse has to have an awkward conversation about going home and doing something to get things started. It's actually good for the mom, and she should go home, eat a little something and do what she can to speed things along.
4 When The Baby's In Distress
All labors are unique, but most of the progress in a pretty standard fashion. Sometimes, though, things take a quick turn, and that can be hard on the mom and the entire medical team.
If the baby goes into distress, everything changes. A calm experience can quickly become chaotic. While the doctor is explaining the medical issues and trying to get ready for any interventions, it's the nurse that is the rock for the mom, helping reassure her and make sure that she feels supported and well cared for. It can start out awkward, but nurses are skilled in helping moms through those alarming moments.
3 When The Dad Is Debatable
One really awkward situation can arise for everyone in the delivery room when the mom isn't sure who the baby's dad is. Of course, that's no big deal if her mother or someone else acts as her labor partner, but if the men in question are in the room, things can get really tense.
This isn't something that happens to everyone, but it can happen. The nurse will always be on the mom's side, no matter what, but no one wants to have the tense situation of figuring out who the baby daddy is. It might be best just to introduce them to the baby after things have settled down.
2 When The Baby Gets Nicked
Unfortunately, the baby doesn't always come out of the delivery entirely unscathed — and that can mean that there is some explaining to do. The baby can get nicked during a C-section delivery, especially if the doctor has to hurry, and there is also a possibility of a cut if the doctor manually breaks the mom's water.
The doctor will be having to talk to the mom, but it's usually the nurse who gets the majority of the mom's thoughts and worries. It can be awkward, but the nurse will try to help the mom understand that there are worse things that could have happened.
1 When There Is No Heartbeat
Most of the time, the maternity ward is a place of joy. Pain, yes, but pure happiness in the end. Unfortunately, though, there are times of tragedy. Some women come to the hospital when their baby has no hospital. They still need to go through the delivery, but the entire time, they know that there will be no happy ending.
Nurses dread going through stillbirth deliveries, but they know that their work and their empathy is even more important in those cases. Moms depend on their nurses in their time of need, and nurses are always there when they need them.
Sources: Baby Center, Parenting