Lucky Nurse (or Superstitions in the Hospital…)


“Superstition: An irrational belief that an object, action, or circumstance not logically related to a course of events influences its outcome.” -from the American Heritage Dictionary

It’s funny–the longer I’m a nurse, the more superstitious I’ve become. And I’ve noticed I’m not alone; my coworkers are just as guilty. Plus we nurses LOVE to share our superstitions.

Labor and delivery tends to be one of the more superstitious floors in the hospital, I think. Here are some of my current L&D favorites:

1. The “Q” Word. Like any other unit, we NEVER say the word quiet (I cringe writing it here). In fact we avoid all kinds of words denoting a calm atmosphere in the fear that we will be jinxed into mayhem.

2. Knocking on Wood, or Formica, or any other wood-type substance occurs when ANYONE utters the above Q-type words. For some reason we think it reverses the effect.

3. Avoidance of The Board. We have a run-down board of all patients and their stats–and NO ONE may erase or touch the board w/out permission. And when someone does get dc’d from the board, we all Knock on Wood.

4. Never make an empty Triage Bed. That’s right–we all know that clean, made beds fill up fast. So we always leave one triage bed unmade. Silly, huh?

5. The Full Moon. Basically a full moon guarantees hospital-wide-insanity (read no beds and TV worthy disasters) for our floor. I think the ED always agrees with us on this one!

6. The Rule of Three. All experienced labor and delivery nurses know that everything on the floor happens in threes. This especially pertains to death (yikes) and really busy nights. Three  nights in a row of high census usually gives us a little reprieve–or leads us to three more nights of high census.

Then there are the personal superstitions:

7. Good-luck Charms. I know a nurse who always wears the same earrings as a talisman against a bad night. It seems to work for her!

8. And then there are nurses who won’t use Certain Rooms on our floor because they are “haunted” or “cursed.”

9. Some of our nurses won’t open instrumentation until the Last Minute before a delivery because they are afraid they will end up with a c-section.

10. And don’t even get me started on how hyper-superstitious L&D nurses can be about birth balls, birth plans, and doulas. It’s like those nurses can Predict a C-section. (I personally love them!)

Even I have a superstition: my husband isn’t allowed to ask me if I’m busy when he calls me at work! LOL!

And now that I’ve completely ruined the night shift ahead by writing all this down, I’ll leave with this question: What crazy/fun/true superstitions do you and your unit have? I’d love to hear more…

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