Shelly Lopez, the RN behind the Adventures of a Labor Nurse blog, recently wrote a post for the Huffington Post in which she explains what it’s REALLY like to be a labor nurse for her fellow nurses interested in the field.
Interested in becoming a labor nurse yourself? Read some excerpts from her article here:
I frequently hear people say “I want to be a labor nurse.” Sometimes when I sit in on interviews, I hear fresh-faced new grads say this, and when I ask them what makes them want to be a labor nurse, I usually get an explanation of their own great birthing experience or a proclamation of their love for babies. That’s not what makes me want to be a labor nurse. When people from the outside look at labor and delivery, they see birth and babies and happiness. And that’s true…it’s like the icing on the cake after a lot of really hard work. But sometimes, the birth isn’t what we thought it would be, sometimes the baby doesn’t present the way we want it to, sometimes there’s heartache and sometimes it’s just gross.
We frequently get splashed with amniotic fluid, with blood, with urine and with poop. If we wrote everything up as an incident, we would never get any work done. And do you know what they would tell you if you did? (I know, because as a new nurse I tried to do it the right way.) They would tell you to wear protective gear. (Seriously!? I’m supposed to wear a mask and goggles and a suit to every single delivery?!?) And we all have back problems from lifting legs and rolling patients and bending over to pick up babies from open cribs and from helping moms breastfeed. Sometimes we massage a fundus and the patient bleeds and bleeds and bleeds while a thousand family members are in the room, oblivious to the fact that their daughter/wife/sister is asking for a bucket to vomit in and hemorrhaging to death. And sometimes the providers don’t make it and we deliver the baby.
So every time I hear someone say that they want to be a labor nurse, that’s what flashes through my mind, like segments from a movie…occasional bad behavior on the part of providers, a fetal demise, nurses at the end of their rope, amniotic fluid splashing into my mouth, limping for a year thanks to plantar fasciitis, straining my back to ensure the patient doesn’t roll off the bed, catching a baby from a precipitous delivery with my bare hands, holding a patient as she sobs that her baby is dead—or worse, telling a mom her baby has died after delivery, watching a mom’s eyes roll into the back of her head and she hemorrhages, getting to work before the sun has come up and getting home after the sun has gone down. And that’s just the start of it. So I leave you with this: The next time you hear someone say they want to be a labor nurse, smile and think of every crazy/bad thing that has ever happened to you or that you’ve ever seen. And even thinking of the laundry list of weirdly wacky things that you’ve been witness to, I bet you’d still answer the same way…yes, you want to be a labor nurse. Could you seriously imagine working anywhere else?!? But I bet it’s not your own magical delivery or your love of a baby that keeps you coming back for more.
Until my next delivery.
Read the full story over on the Huffington Post. Then, in the comments below, tell us about your own experiences with labor and delivery and what advice you’d give to fellow nurses looking to enter your field.