Are Nurses Failing Their Pregnant Patients?

Supermodel Chrissy Teigen has been all over the internet since giving birth to her first baby, tweeting about the normal trials and tribulations of new motherhood. Known for being an online cut-up, her small jokes have shed a light on a big issue; a lot of new moms are clueless about what happens to their body after childbirth.Blame it on the hormones, or the new love of your life, or the fact that he or she is causing severe sleep deprivation. But as much as new moms hear about what to do with a new baby at home, no one seems to be telling them about the painful boobs, incessant bleeding and pain when they pee that goes with it.
Nurses involved in the care of pregnant and post-partum patients can do better in educating these moms about what they should prepare for in the weeks and months following childbirth – beyond how to care for a newborn.
Chrissy and her singer-hubby John Legend welcomed baby girl Luna Simone Stephens into the world on April 14th. The super couple struggled to get pregnant, resorting to in-vitro fertilization to make their tiny miracle. Even as they consulted with fertility experts, obstetricians, and maternal health nurses throughout the entire road to baby Luna, a few facts about child birth were missed in the appointments.
Chrissy Teigen Tweets Provide the Evidence
Through Twitter, Chrissy Teigen gives us some solid proof that a first time mom is not always schooled on the changes her body is about to go through now that baby has left the womb:

Exhibit A

Chrissy Teigen Twitter

Chrissy Teigen is alluding to the monstrous sized maxi pad that new moms are sent home in, and yes, it does feel like you are wearing a diaper. The response to her tweet is priceless, calling the practice of not mentioning this during a patient’s multiple prenatal appointments cruel – classic. This is a dialogue that a maternal nurse could, and should, be having in the last trimester of pregnancy, to make sure that a new mom understands what lochia is, and how long they can expect to be dealing with it.
Exhibit B

Chrissy Teigen Perineal Irrigation

Obviously by now Chrissy has experienced the sting of urination after childbirth. It is just sad that she didn’t already have her bottle handy to help relieve it. A maternal nurse should consider an irrigation bottle an essential part of post-partum care and have this talk with mom before she is going to need it.
As a celebrity with access to the best of medical care, it is incredible that Chrissy Teigen missed hearing about these common problems of a new mom before she became one. There is an obvious gap in maternal health care that dedicated nurses can easily fill.
The Role of a Maternal Health Nurse
A maternal health nurse differs from a neonatal nurse in their focus. A neonatal nurse’s first priority is the health and care of a newborn, while a nurse specializing in maternal health is concerned about the physical and mental well-being of mom during and then after pregnancy. The roles intersect often, and a nurse who specializes in both will be considered a valuable asset in a maternity setting. Another path to choose is to become a certified nurse midwife. This is a high earning specialty that allows you to work with your pregnant patient exclusively during pregnancy, childbirth and beyond.
Hospitals and public service providers have learned that this type of concentrated care leads to a decrease in issues with newborn babies as their moms are empowered with more knowledge about their care.
Nurses Specializing in Obstetrics and Maternal Health
A nurse who chooses maternal health and obstetrics as their specialty should strive to do their best in providing patients with information. Since the majority of patient visits are routine, you could enact a practice of using that time to talk about post-partum issues – like having to wear a diaper or care of the perineal area.
Other topics worth talking about with pregnant women:
• Breast and nipple care whether breastfeeding or not.
• The possibility of incontinence after child birth.
• Post-partum sadness and depression.
• Hair loss and skin changes.
• The importance of oral hygiene.

Once the baby comes, all attention is usually turned there, while mom is left dealing with her own issues, on her own. Remember, most obstetricians schedule the first post-baby visit for mom at 6 weeks after a normal vaginal birth. A lot happens to her body in those six weeks that she needs to be prepared for.

Chrissy has made light of a heavy subject, and by doing so has shed some light on a serious flaw in prenatal health care. Remember when dealing with a pregnant patient that there are indeed two patients to take care of. Give pregnant and post-partum women a little more of your time, so that they can better enjoy their time with their new baby at home.

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