When people think of a profession of heroes, nurses may not be the first, second, or even third job that comes to mind, but what they encounter on a day-to-day basis makes them worthy of many medals. According to National Health Care Provider Solutions nurses are consistently named as one of the most trusted professions out there, and nurses work hard! Nursing has relatively consistent training with many nursing principles being universal around the globe.
On average a nurse walks 4 miles during a shift, and that doesn’t even scratch the surface when it comes to their workload. Dealing with demanding doctors, technicians, patients, and patient’s family members, it’s no wonder they’re so exhausted at the end of their shift. While nursing in the area of birth and delivery is a very rewarding job, it isn’t all baby cuddling, and smiles from the happy new parents. Nurses are front of the line when it comes to most women’s birthing experiences, and with that comes a gambit of emotions along with births that go as planned, and emergency situations that require split second decision making.
At the end of the day, nurses are people too, and sometimes they need to vent after a hard day at work. Here are 20 things they find the most awkward about childbirth.
20 Water Breaking Against the Wall
A recent study published by Nursing Times showed that less than a third of births happen during regular nine to five weekdays, so nurses are there for long hours, during weird hours – meaning they’ve seen it all. One-woman recounts via Facebook that her mom was horrified when her water broke in the hospital waiting room. The nurse calmed her down by helping put these moments into perspective.
19 The Loud Labour
There are a lot of women in labour and delivery, and even people who have given birth before can get frightened during what is a very tense experience. For first-time mothers active labour can take as much as 12 hours, so a big pet peeve is when someone’s theatrics are freaking out other people. Lorin shared on Facebook about her labour experience, “I screamed [a lot] during my contractions. The nurse walked in and told me in the nicest voice, 'You are scaring all the moms in the other rooms who aren't as far along as you are.' I didn't care. I screamed until I got my shot."
18 Every Day Is A Momentous Occasion
Childbirth doesn’t happen every day, that is unless you are a labour and delivery nurse. One nurse shared with Cosmopolitan that it is thrilling to be a part of such a momentous event for so many people, but there can also be a downside stating,
“You can have a patient who just had a healthy baby and is crying happy tears in one room and then you can have a patient who just lost her newborn in another. Happy or sad, you're a part of a milestone for someone and you have to be able to adjust your emotions depending on your patients.”
17 The Bearers Of Bad News
We tend to gloss over the bad things that happen to babies because we don’t want to think about it, unfortunately for maternity nurses, this is an upsetting reality they need to face daily. One nurse told Cosmopolitan,
" In those moments it's really difficult, but you have to stay strong and be a support system for your patient.”
16 When Birth Plans Go Wrong
Doctors and nurses know the risks associated with medications and consent for surgery and are keeping this in mind as they work to protect both you and baby, they are doing their best, but sometimes things don’t go right, and this often can’t be helped. One nurse tells Cosmo,
“A lot of mothers want to be in control of their birth, and that's why they make a birthing plan. The truth, though, is that no one can plan for what might or might not happen. If a patient is in labor for 48 hours and her birthing plan says no drugs, as a nurse, I'm still going to suggest an epidural to help her get the rest she needs in order to push later on and avoid a C-section. A maternity nurse believes in this nursing plan: have a healthy baby and a healthy mom.”
15 Only Listening To The Doctor
No one is saying that you shouldn’t listen to the doctor, but anyone who has had extensive experience staying in a hospital knows you have a lot more face time with your nurse than an MD. The information they are trying to tell you is valuable, they are experts, take a minute and listen to what they have to say.
Heather says, “Please remember who the members of your (medical) team are. Your doctor is specialized in obstetric medicine. Your midwife has extensive training in safe natural births. And best of all *wink*, your nurse is focused on assessing your signs, symptoms, vitals, and fetal well-being so that we can prevent poor outcomes.”
14 The Embarrassing Jokes
The whole aspect of a bunch of strangers looking at your private parts can be a lot to take, particularly for those who are more modest and private. One father-to-be decided to cut the tension with a nurse and her trainee with a poorly timed comment. His constant jokes had the nurse in training blushing and flustered. Sometimes dads think they're making things better when in reality they're just making everyone uncomfortable.
13 When Things Get Heated
Birthing is a painful and emotional experience, moms are exhausted and sometimes accidents happen, much to a nurse’s chagrin. Callie shared on Facebook, "Once I hit a six (pain level) I wanted my epidural, but the anesthesiologist took two hours to go from downstairs to the second floor. During that time, I got ANGRY and yelled at my nurse. Once the epidural finally arrived and I'd calmed down, I told her I was so sorry that I yelled and I didn't mean it. She said,
“We are used to it. Don't sweat it. At least you didn't head-butt me like the girl yesterday."
12 When Parents Think You Work "For Them"
The nurse has you and the health of many other patients as their number one priority. As important as this birth is to you (not to discount your entire experience), it’s one of many balls your nurse is juggling. Be kind and respectful to those taking care of you.
Labour and delivery nurse Heather says, “You can’t expect us to be doormen that regulate every visitor who walks in and out of your room. It’s too important not to repeat– you don’t want us to treat you like we are a hotel, a restaurant, or anything other than a hospital. No matter if you THINK you want that, you don’t. When your baby’s heart rate is in the 60s, you’re going to be glad we do more than find extra pillows for in between your legs.”
11 Won't Push, Can't Push
There’s a famous expression ‘Don’t shoot the messenger’. On many occasions, the nurse ends up being the messenger for these types of moments and then needs to wait it out with a frustrated mom, despite giving poorly received news. It isn’t fun for anyone, and even when a nurse feels your frustration there isn’t much they can do to help. Mom Raynah was livid when her nurse told her, "'You can't push yet. Your doctor won't be here for at least 10 minutes.' (As my baby was crowning.) I almost kicked that nurse in the face."
10 Messy Job
One nurse dished to Cosmo on the grosser side of her job saying that, “Postpartum bleeding, formula, baby spit, and all types of bodily fluids will get on your scrubs, your shoes, and pretty much everywhere sometimes. Leaving work and going to meet with someone right after for a bite to eat doesn't work in this field. The first thing you're going to want to do when you leave the hospital is to throw your scrubs in the wash and take a long shower.” So, this means that on top of longer shifts you probably need access to a warm shower and new clothes before that romantic dinner or movie.
9 The "Ultimate" Fear
A lot of moms are really nervous about accidentally "going" while they are pushing. This is something that most nurses tend to downplay because they know that this should be the least of mom’s worries, and then sometimes someone like a doctor reveals the stinky side of childbirth from the other side of the green curtain.
8 Indecisive Mommy
Labour Nurse Heather knows how hard and scary it can be going into labour for the first time. This is why some personal research, whether it’s a class or some reading on what to expect during labour, will help make your nurse’s job easier when it comes to instructing you during your baby’s birth.
Heather says, “If you don’t know what to expect from yourself, your body, your baby, your team, or your time when your having a baby, you’re going to be thoroughly confused and unable to make decisions for yourself when a time comes that you’ll need to. You’re a mom now. Pull it together. Figure out what labor and birth is all about.”
7 Misunderstanding With Mom
Mistakes happen, even in labour and delivery, and like most of us, maternity nurses feel bad when they happen. A maternity nurse told Cosmopolitan Magazine, “We communicate feeding plans with patients every night that include if the mother will feed the baby with a bottle, if we'll feed the baby with a bottle, or if the mother wants to breastfeed. Sometimes there are misunderstandings and we end up feeding the baby when the mother wanted to. Misunderstandings happen, and you learn from it."
These experiences can cause some uncomfortable patient/ nurse moments, but as long as everyone comes in knowing that everyone is doing their best it’s a lot easier.
6 Your Family Drama
Nurses are there to do their job, but sometimes they find themselves caught up in the drama of their patients. This is not something they signed up for at the beginning of their shift, but sometimes it happens anyway. One nurse told The Motherish,
“A woman had a baby and she didn’t want her father to know. He showed up on Labour and Delivery, demanding he meet his grandchild. We denied his daughter was there. He started to yell, and the baby’s father heard and came out and asked him to leave.”
5 Mom and Dad Disputes
Sometimes nurses have to deal with the drama of mom and dad disagreeing in the delivery room and thus take on the role of unofficial arbitrators. One couple recalls getting into a fight over dinner right before the woman entered into labor; they continued to give each other silent treatment for hours at the hospital as she waited to deliver. The nurse was forced to take the husband aside and urged him to put his pride on hold until after the birth of their child. During tense moments like these, it can sometimes fall on the nurse to give new parents a reality check.
4 Foot In Your Mouth
Sometimes a baby doesn’t come when expected, and this means frustration for everyone since long labour is exhausting. Because we’re all human, sometimes we don’t say things the way they’re meant, which can be particularly difficult when you’re working with a mom who has been in labour for hours.
One mom Vita says, "After laboring for 20+ hours the nurse said 'all the other moms have delivered. You're the LAST one!' Awesome. Sometimes nurses put their foot in their mouth, and some parents are more forgiving than others.
3 Demanding Divas
Nurses love it when a mom is decisive and knows what she wants, to a point. The unpredictable nature of birth often means that you need to leave some wiggle room for change. Delivery nurse Heather says,
“Are you planning to write a birth plan that lists every possible detail of your experience, is condescending, is demanding without any regard for hospital policy, and is completely inflexible? Then fine, your nurses are going to feel like they drew the short stick being assigned to you. But if you write a condensed, informed, knowledgeable, realistic, plan that leaves room for emergency situations and keeps all parties involved safe, we will LOVE IT!”
2 The Worst Days
Most of the time people behave well and things are good. One nurse, Miss McGee told Reddit, “In the six years I've been at this hospital, that was the only time I've heard a 'code white' aka aggressive person for Labour and Delivery.”
Like any job where you deal with people, your day is only as good as your worst customer (or patient), sometimes things get heated, but most of the time people are pretty calm, considering how harried the experience of birth can be for many.
1 Getting The Job Done
Since time is of the essence, Labour and Delivery nurses need to speak in a blunt and clear way. They aren’t trying to be rude, they’re simply trying to get the job done. Nurse Paunen says,
“In our specialty, it’s important to remember that not every family is made the same way, and not every family has the same things. A nurse must be able to extend the same caring and empathy to all patients, no matter what the circumstances are.”
While there are tough moments and situations, that are really awkward, there are also some memorable ones in an amazing way. Nurse Paunen adds, “You get a picture taken with you giving the baby’s first bath. You know that’s going into a baby book and that kid’s going to see your face when he’s older. Those are those cool moments when you realize ‘this is why I do this.’”