As much as a mom prepares for her labor and delivery, there are some secrets that she might not realize. In the case of a hospital delivery, the people who know the most about the situation is undoubtedly the nurses that are there to help with so many births each day.
While the doctors may be who the moms have interacted with for nine months before the big event, the nurses are the ones who spend the most time with them during the hours of labor or the preparations for a C-section — as well as the time after the baby arrives. They know the ins and outs of the process, and they have seen just about everything in the delivery room.
While the hospital might not serve food in the middle of the night, nurses know just how hungry a new mom can be, so they have a secret stash of sandwiches to help out. They are willing to step in with family members when necessary, and they clean up the stuff no one wants to see before anyone notices. Nurses are the best, and moms should definitely trust them to help when they need it.
Here are 20 things about hospitals most nurses keep to themselves (that moms should know).
20 Moms Often Get Sent Home For Coming Too Early
For most moms-to-be one of their biggest fears is not getting to the hospital in time. But the truth that nurses know is that more often than not, they actually come too early.
There are a lot of reasons why it's better to wait to go to the hospital in early labor, such as being able to eat and walk around. Many times nurses have to tell the mom to come back when her contractions are stronger and closer together. Some moms might be embarrassed and upset about the timing issue, but it's for the mom's own good. If the hospital is a long way away, then maybe just go for a walk and get some lunch and come back.
19 Triage Can Take A While
When moms get to the hospital, they aren't set directly to a room. They start out in triage, which is a smaller room where they can wait while the nurse evaluates them. Things like the water breaking might mean that the mom bypasses triage. But most moms have to go get some tests done and evaluate their contractions.
Triage might take a while, especially if contractions are 10 minutes or more apart. The nurse wants to see that the labor is progressing, so it could take several sets of contractions before she decides if mom goes home or gets moved to a labor and delivery room.
18 Moms Should Request Wireless Monitoring Early On
Hospitals are getting better about equipping labor and delivery rooms with things that can make the experience more comfortable for moms. But they don't always have enough for when their rooms are full of laboring moms-to-be. That's why moms should request wireless monitoring early.
Most doctors want to have continuous updates on the baby's heartbeat, so they have moms wear a probe that sends a signal back to the nurse's station. But it can limit the mom's ability to walk around. More hospitals these days have a few wireless sets, but the mom might have to wait in line to get ahold of that.
17 Moms Really Do Go No. 2 On The Table
Another big fear arrives for moms when they read information about labor and delivery. They learn that it is common for some moms to defecate during the delivery, and they can be horrified by the thought of going through that embarrassment. It's actually listed as one of the top fears of women.
But nurses try to keep that information to themselves. They are very adept at cleaning up a little poo so quickly that the moms don't even know that they did it. While the dad might admit that it happened, the nurse won't. She understands the mom's anxiety and the need to be discreet. And it's so common that they aren't embarrassed at all about the situation.
16 Induction Meds Can Make Contractions More Painful
There are a lot of reasons why the doctor might recommend that a woman use induction meds, including some complications that can come up at the end of the pregnancy that means it's safer to go ahead and deliver the baby. Sometimes, the contractions can stall, and the meds can help speed things up.
But nurses try to keep to themselves the fact that induction meds can make the contractions more painful. No mom wants to sign up for more pain, but sometimes the health considerations make it worth giving the meds a try. At the hospital, the mom still has an option for an epidural, and the nurse can offer that option if things get too intense.
15 The Nurse Doesn't Mind Being The Bad Guy With Family Members
A baby's birth is an exciting moment for the entire family, which means that many hospitals get crammed with family and friends waiting to meet the little one. That can be tough on a mom who is already going through a tough physical and emotional situation.
Sometimes, a mom isn't comfortable with her father-in-law filming the birth, for example, but she doesn't want to tell him that. The nurse is usually willing to be the bad guy and clear the room when it gets too crowded and even invoke hospital policy when necessary to make the mom more comfortable.
14 Sometimes The Doctor Isn't There In Time
A lot of women worry that they might get a different doctor during their delivery than they want. But nurses know that sometimes things could be worse — sometimes the doctor doesn't make it in time. They don't let moms know that, though, because they wouldn't want them to worry.
Most of the time, there is at least one doctor in the facility, but it's possible the doctor could step out or have another patient delivering. Nurses can handle a natural delivery if they have to until the doctor arrives, and they can update him quickly if an emergency comes up and he is needed right away.
13 Babies Don't Start Out All That Cute
As much as a mom can't wait to see if her little one has his daddy's dimples or his mom's eyes, it can be a little disheartening to see the baby for the first time after the birth. That's because moms don't always know the secret that nurses understand — babies don't start out all that cute.
Newborns can be covered in hair and born with a white cheese-like coating on them. On top of that, the hormones can cause swelling and the trauma of birth can leave them with bruises and even an oddly shaped head. After a few days, the bruises and swelling go down, and a good bath can make a big difference.
12 It Can Take A Few Hours To Get An Epidural
When a mom-to-be is ready for pain relief, she wants it to be instantaneous. But that doesn't happen. In fact, it can take a few hours or more from the time that the mom requests to have an epidural until she gets it. That's because anesthesiologists work for every department in the hospital, and they may not be available right away.
Emergencies cases will always go first, and that can mean anything from a car accident victim to an appendectomy. Scheduled surgeries can also delay the epidural. So nurses recommend that moms learn some natural breathing techniques to get them through until the anesthesiologist arrives.
11 They Might Have A Ball Available For Laboring
Hospitals have a lot of high-tech equipment, but some moms might not know that they also have some low-tech ones that can help moms a lot during their labor and delivery. They might think that only doulas and home births include labor balls, but hospitals often keep a few handy for moms.
Nurses have a different function compared to a doula, but they are trained in many natural birth techniques. Moms can get a lot of tips and hints from their nurse, and many hospitals have maternity wards equipped with the same tools as home births. Moms just have to ask.
10 They'll Report Any Signs When Things Aren't Right
Nurses care a lot about their patients, and they truly want the best for a new mom and her little one. That means that if she suspects that something isn't right with the family, she is going to report it.
That includes getting a social worker involved if she worries that there might be abuse or neglect in the household. And any signs of really unhealthy habits that might come up in the mom's system could also be reported. In fact, it's mandatory for the nurse to report so the baby stays safe when he goes home from the hospital.
9 They Might Sneak Mom-to-Be Some Food
In general, moms aren't allowed to eat while they are in the hospital laboring. That's because doctors are concerned about the possibility of the mom needing surgery, and there is a risk of complications if the mom has food in her stomach at the time. But nurses might sneak mom-to-be a little food if she feels like it is safe.
We're mostly talking about things that are small and pass quickly like apple sauce and popsicles, which can help give the mom a little bit of energy. It won't happen if things are complicated and the birth is close, but it's always a good idea to be friendly to the nurse. It can have benefits.
8 They Do Have Other Patients To Care For
As much as a mom wants to be getting one-on-one care during her labor and delivery, the truth is that nurses do have other patients to look after during their shifts. That means that they can't always be around to give advice either before or after the delivery.
Nurses work in teams, so it's possible if one mom is pushing, another one down the hall might get another nurse come to her when she calls. Most nurses try to keep it from the moms, so they all feel special and well-cared-for, but they have to juggle a patient load as best they can, and sometimes that means a delay.
7 They Know Mom's Vitals At All Times
There are times when a woman is laboring in her hospital room when she might wonder if she's all alone in the process, such as when the nurse is out of the room. But the truth is that nurses monitor their patients constantly, so they will know if something comes up.
The mom's BP is taken automatically at regular intervals, and they have a pulse oximeter on at all times. A nurse is always watching the monitor at the nurse's station for an alert. It's still a good idea to call for the nurse when you need it. But many times she knows what is going on even when she's not in the room.
6 They've Seen It All In The Delivery Room
Moms aren't always at their best physically and mentally during a delivery. They might worry about the grossness and the embarrassment, but nurses have seen it all. They don't bat an eye if amniotic fluid gets on their shoes or the mom loses control of her bladder or bowels.
Nurses also witness a lot of fights between family members, hormonal crying fits, and more. They know what can happen in the middle of labor and delivery, and they don't judge. That can be reassuring for a woman who is worried about exposing her body much less her faults. But nurses have seen it, and they keep it a secret.
5 They Have Turkey Sandwiches For After The Delivery
As we've mentioned before, it can take a while for moms to give birth, and many times they have skipped a couple of meals or so. After the excitement of meeting the baby arrives, she'll be really hungry. But that could come between meal time or even in the middle of the night when the hospital isn't serving.
Luckily, most maternity ward nurses have a stash of turkey sandwiches just for the occasion. That means that dad doesn't have to do a late night run to a fast food restaurant. And we promise, it'll be the best turkey sandwich a woman has ever tasted.
4 They Don't Mind Helping In The Bathroom
Moms might think that they can manage after the baby's birth, but they need their nurse as much as ever, especially when they go to the bathroom. That first trip can be a real doozy, especially if the mom had a natural birth with tearing.
All moms need to set up a pad to catch the discharge after birth, but nurses have a special method of using an ice pack and witch hazel to help with healing the area down below. And a special squirt bottle is needed to clean up — be sure to use warm water. C-section moms can have troubles with going number two, so they'll want the nurse's help for that too.
3 Most Are Trained To Help With Nursing
Most hospitals have lactation consultants that can help the mom make sure that she gets the best start with nursing, but the truth is that the nurse can be the first step to getting some advice. Most labor and delivery nurses have some training or experience with the latch and other tips.
That can be especially helpful for moms who are learning to nurse in the middle of the night or on weekends — or if the hospital is busy and the lactation consultant is visiting other patients. Don't be afraid to ask the nurse some questions while waiting for the expert.
2 Nurses Have Toothpaste and Socks For Mom
Packing a hospital bag has a lot more pressure than packing for vacation. But most moms have their thoughts on what they will need for the baby as well as what they want to have for labor. That means that some simple items can get missed.
But the hospital keeps some supplies that be useful. Just like the hotel's concierge, the nurse has a toothbrush and toothpaste in case mom forgets hers. The hospital even has socks, since they use them for surgical patients. The dad might have to go to the gift shop or a nearby store for his supplies, but mom can ask the nurse before she spends any extra.
1 They'll Stock Mom Up Before She Leaves
The last thing that nurses want for new moms is for them to have to go to the store on the way home for the hospital. So they stock mom up before she leaves. That includes any diapers that are left in the bassinet, baby wipes and lotions, the mom's pads and ice packs and even extra mesh undies.
Nurses used to give formula samples as well, but most hospitals don't push that anymore in an attempt to strengthen their stance on nursing. If the mom needs them, though, she can ask and the nurse likely has some in their supply closet.