10 things your labor and delivery nurse truly wants you to know

The day you give birth will always be memorable. But before that day comes, your labor nurse has some advice for you.

1. Prepare in whatever way you need, but don’t let it stress you out

Yes, it’s great to have a birth plan. One that ideally answers some of these questions: :

  • Who should be in the delivery room?
  • Do you want to save your placenta?
  • What’s your plan for pain management?
  • How will you be feeding your baby?

Consider taking a childbirth class, even if you are planning an epidural, to understand the stages of labor and what you can expect as a patient. If you go to a class, it will help you relax a little. But leave medical and other technical talks to us—we’ve got you.

2. Let nature take its course

We know you’re anxious to have your baby, but it’s unlikely that we’ll start labor before your due date. No magic formula exists for your brain and placenta to start your labor process. Let nature take its course. We understand you are uncomfortable, many of us are mothers, we've been there. But really, it’s better to wait until it starts on its own.

3. If you’re unsure about pain control, that’s okay

It's okay to be unsure and wait to see. Your labor nurse wants to know what your plan is, but the plan can always change. We are here to support you no matter what you decide.

4. Breathe

Breathing is so important during your birth. Your baby needs that oxygen, as does your uterus. And it will help alleviate fears and anxieties.

5. We will communicate with you, we promise

At some point of your labor, you may have more than one nurse in your room—but that doesn’t mean anything is wrong. If your nurse is concerned, she will tell you. Your doctor will tell you. Leave the trust in your labor team to tell you if something is wrong. If your baby does not tolerate labor, stay calm and focus in on what the nurses and doctor are telling you.

6. Labor is a journey, not a race

Some patients come laboring and have their baby in minutes, while for others it takes days. Make sure you have a support team that doesn't treat your labor like a race.

The number one question I receive as a labor nurse is, "When do you think the baby will come?"It's like predicting the lottery numbers, though generally, after the cervical change starts for a first time mother, the cervix will dilate a centimeter an hour, and maybe faster for a repeat mom.

In general though, just try to be in the experience. Your baby will come.

7. Your nurse isn't afraid to be the bad guy

Is your sister-in law, mother-in-law and friend wanting in on your delivery, but you’re feeling like you want it to be a bit more private? Ask your nurse when you are alone with her to make up a “visitor rule” for delivery. I have had many experiences when I've had to ask everyone but the partner to leave the room. This is your birth, not theirs.

The waiting area is an okay place to be. We give frequent updates and will keep everyone updated on the progress.

Don't be ashamed to want the delivery to include only you and the father. Ask yourself, "Were they there when you made the baby?" If the answer is no (and we hope it is), they do not have to be there for the birth.

8. We don't care about body hair or bodily functions while pushing

We are so incredibly happy that today is (finally) your day! We could care less if you washed your hair, shaved your bikini zone, or got a pedicure. We do not care if you poop on the delivery bed, especially if it results in a having a baby. We are not grossed out by anything.

9.Skin-to-skin rules

Have you heard of skin-to-skin, also known as kangaroo care? The benefits are incredible. Nurses have had to change our practice a bit to allow the change, but it's paid off.

Family members are also accommodating by waiting to hold and waiting for the infant's weight. Our mothers and babies are reaping the benefits of kangaroo care, during the Golden Hour after birth. And it’s just so lovely.

10. Breastfeeding isn't always natural

Planning to breastfeed your baby? The benefits are incredibly amazing, but be ready for some challenges.

You and your baby are learning a new skill. It takes a great commitment and patience. It is a learning process that many women do not understand. Your milk will not "come in" right away, the process takes a few days. Don't worry, your baby will not starve, we will tell you if your baby is losing too much weight, or medically requires formula because of jaundice or low blood sugar.

And if you choose to bottle feed, we are not judgmental. We support you.

Remember to relax and know that your labor team's ultimate goal is a healthy mom and a healthy baby. Every delivery to your labor nurse is special to us, every day is a birth day.

Janine is an RN who has worked in labor and delivery since 2006. In 2012, she started freelance writing on the side to make extra cash and to use her ‘nurse’ brain in a different way. She was astonished to know she could make extra money this way and grew her business, WriteRN from 0-$15K in one year and quit her PRN job.

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