Childbirth Advice from Labor and Delivery Nurses
During my first pregnancy, I heard many horror stories of painful, long labors from friends and coworkers, and I was a bit nervous about my own impending birth.
“I was screaming all the way to the hospital.”
“My labor took 26 hours! Then I ended up with a c-section anyway.”
“Labor is terrible. TERRIBLE! I couldn't wait to get my epidural.”
Needless to say, I was prepared for the worst.
The night before I had my son, I checked in to the hospital with high blood pressure and was induced. They started the Pitocin, and my nurse asked me to rate my pain from 1 to 10.
“Meh. About a three, maybe?”
“Impossible,” she said. “According to these contractions, you should be in WAY more pain than that.”
This back-and-forth kept up for hours through terrible television shows, trips to the bathroom, and my husband eating french fries in front of me at midnight. (The nerve.) I would rate my pain at a low level; she would tell me I was wrong.
The pain started kicking up after my water broke, and I started practicing the breathing techniques I learned in my childbirth education class.
“Does that actually work?” she asked. “Listen … you don't get a trophy for going through pain. There is no gold medal. If you want an epidural, get an epidural. Besides, if someone comes in and needs an emergency c-section, they will trump you when you might really need it.”
As another contraction hit, I decided it was time, thanks to my L&D nurse.
Hindsight being 20/20, I probably wouldn't have gotten an epidural without her advice. I believe I could have done it without the pain medicine, and I proved that when I gave birth to my daughter after laboring for hours at home. This transaction shows how influential and important labor and delivery nurses are to a laboring mother.
I asked some L&D nurses to give me some advice for pregnant ladies ready to give birth, and I hope their words encourage and inspire mamas to face the birth of their child without fear.
“Really think about the type of delivery you want to have and research it. I personally think it's best to stay home and labor as long as possible. We get [patients] often who come hours later, and that can be bad. I think it is excellent ( if the opportunity presents itself) to be in a birth to get a real idea of what the setting is like.
“Another piece of advice: Moms in labor need to put their phones away and enjoy their babies while in hospital–dads, too. It's not a time for social media. I wish that precious time with parents and babies were kept more intimate and special by privacy… savoring every moment. Skin to skin. Keep that baby bare on Mommy's chest. So much research supports the benefits to baby for this.”
— Lori McMillan – UF Health Shands Hospital, Gainesville, Fla.
“Being a labor and delivery nurse is about empowering and supporting a woman as she endures one of the most brutal but miraculous experiences that we go through as women. It's my goal to help that mother have a positive birth experience and a healthy baby. It's an amazingly rewarding job that comes with emotional extremes. Handing a mother her wet, sticky baby for the first time can be awe-inspiring. Helping a mother grieve through the loss of a child is heart wrenching.
“I love my job. I love caring for women and babies. I love the changes and challenges of every shift.”
— Katelyn Burke
“It's important to know that there definitely can be circumstances beyond your control that can cause you to deviate from [your birth] plan, and that's OK. It doesn't mean that you've failed or that your not fulfilling your plan. You wouldn't believe how many times a day we say, ‘You CAN do this. And you will. And I'll be here to do it with you.'”
— Heather Porter, Cabell Huntington Hospital, Huntington, W.Va.
“The one thing I've learned is that attitude is everything. Going into the hospital thinking that everyone is the enemy is going to stress you out. Birth is so neat! Get excited. It's life changing. Don't be too worried. My favorite bible verse for mamas is ‘I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born' (Isaiah 66:9). God's got this, and you get a brand new life out of all your hard work.”
— Alexandra Magee, doula, Gainesville, Fla.
Does this advice calm any of your labor-and-delivery fears? What advice would you like to share?Read More