Gifts for your labor nurse: A lot of patients want to pre-plan gifts for labor and delivery nurses. This post is from a L&D nurse, and will tell you what gifts for nurses are expected and when to give it!
Table of contents
First off, hello! I’m Hilary — many people know me as The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind this website Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 And clearly — after 20 years of being a labor nurse I know what they REALLY want.
Be sure to grab my printable hospital bag checklist right here:
And honestly, the BEST gift is for you to have a great birth. And, great births start with great education. One of the BEST things you can give your nurse is being confident and prepared in the labor room. This class does just that in 3 hours time!
Gifts for Labor and Delivery Nurses
We live a life of tipping. We tip our doorman, our garbage man, and our mailman — but the area of health care hasn’t really succumbed to tipping. Perhaps for a few reasons…
- Price? who’s going to tip 20% of your delivery bill? Umm… no one.
- Sometimes you can’t actually put a price on our services.
- People of all income levels come to the hospital.
- The nurses really don’t expect anything — you won’t find tipping envelopes in your bathroom.
And perhaps, most of all — tipping healthcare workers is actually not legal — at least not for the nurses to accept (with some exceptions).
I love my job and I love my patients, and let me equivocally say that I very rarely get a gift. And that, is OK.
I am 100% not in it for the gifts.
I love my job because I am helping new moms. Not because I’m hoping for some lotion. 🙂
That isn’t to say that hospital staff doesn’t appreciate them during long 12-hour shifts.
I also REALLY want to say that NO ONE expects every expectant mother to give us a gift. It’s a perk when it happens — but we are there to make sure you and baby are safe and happy.
Why is tipping healthcare staff illegal?
Well, a tip is meant for exceptional service –right?
BUT, in health care, we really should be giving exceptional service to EVERYONE. Most of all, I shouldn’t only give exceptional service to someone who looks rich and may tip me better than the homeless woman down the hall.
I am a big believer in this. I rarely look at people’s insurance. Once women are in gowns it’s often not as apparent who has money and who doesn’t — and I want to love and serve each of them the same.
Now, be rude to me or condescending to me, and that’s another story….
SO — you trying to tip me, that’s not illegal.
BUT, me taking it, that IS illegal.
I’m not saying that they can throw me in jail — but I can say that the hospital can get in trouble and I could lose my job. In the healthcare ethics classes I have gone to for my work, they have made it VERY clear that tipping is NOT OK — for the reasons mentioned above.
Also, because people who are paid through government dollars (aka, medicare/Medicaid) are not able to take tips.
Now, I have had one exception and that is the red envelope. Some Asian families will prepare envelopes of thanks in advance for those who participate in the bringing into the world the new baby. Not taking the envelope it is VERY rude. So, as long as the envelope had less than $5 we were able to keep it.
**Some hospitals are more/less lax on this — so you may want to check with your nurse if you’d like to give her something really nice. But, officially — gifts JUST for us with more than $10-15 in value are a big no-no.
What nurses can accept for gifts?
We are able to accept products. But, at a low dollar amount. I am not sure the dollar amount, but it’s low maybe $5. If you bring me a lotion or a cookie — I can take that. But, officially, we shouldn’t take gift cards or cash for any reason (although I have seen managers turn the other way when a patient is very generous).
Please note that the amount nurses are able to accept varies between hospitals, but a small inexpensive gift is almost always OK (you can call the unit ahead of time to check).
We are also able to accept larger valued products for the whole unit. A tray of cookies, lunch for everyone. Things like that.
Ideas for nurse gifts
Food. Food is always welcome. If you’re going out for dinner, maybe ask her what she’d like and bring her back some. I ALWAYS appreciate this, even if I sometimes turn it down. It’s very thoughtful, and not a lot of extra work for you/your family.
Baked goods for the staff. While you may just see one nurse, there is a crew of people behind her that are also helping out. Techs, secretaries, housekeeping, doctors, managers, etc. By bringing a tray of baked goods, everyone can share. Remember that you will have both delivery nurses and postpartum nurses. Those can be separate areas, so sometimes two trays is a great way to thank all of the staff.
Candy — clearly, we don’t eat much….. If you could give us a way to pee without leaving your room, that would be awesome too. 🙂 Sweet treats can be shared and enjoyed by all the staff. This makes this SO DARN CUTE!
Lotion — our hands get SUPER dry as we wash when we’re in the room or sanitize, each and every time we’re in your room (plus, somehow hospital air is dryer). I thought this set was pretty cool, and still under the dollar amount (and you could give one to each of your nurses). Lotion is always a good idea for nurses.
A Card — a gift certainly doesn’t need to be big to be meaningful. One of my favorite gifts ever — I had a bad delivery and the woman’s mom sent me the nicest card about how she’d always remember what I did to save her grandchild. I still have it. Gives me many warm fuzzies. These are already themed for you, or just use regular ones (I love how those look!)
Some other gifts you can consider is a fun badge reel, hand sanitizer, a coffee mug, hair ties, a water bottle, or protein bars.
**Especially if you had a scary delivery we LOVE to know how things are going once you get home. HIPPA rules prohibit us from finding out too much after you leave, but I had a mom try to die on me once — she went over to ICU and I never heard too much afterward. The unit got a Christmas Card of her twins and I was so happy to see they were doing well. It was better than any gift I’d gotten!**
All of these can be brought when you deliver, or afterward. We’ve had patients do it both ways.
Some people keep the gifts in their room and offer them as staff come in, and some people take them to the nurse’s station (although, if I had my choice I’d say to take them to the nurse’s station as I am often busy when I’m in your room and later feel awkward about asking about it).
The Problem with a Gift Card
While normally I’m a HUGE gift card fan, they can be problematic in the labor room. You may have several nurses, you may have a lot of staff that were very helpful. Often smaller gifts can be better as you can appreciate each one.
However, I have seen patients who had a specific nurse that really helped them come back with a gift card after birth (and often our manager has looked the other way)…. so, that’s something to think about if you really want to tell someone specific thanks for their hard work afterwards.
How many Labor and Delivery Nurses Will I Have?
As an average guess I would think 2-3 L&D nurses and 4-6 couplet, or mother baby nurses (that can really vary if they are on the schedule multiple days). However, it really depends on how long you are in labor and how busy the hospital is at the time of delivery. Sometimes I am with patients the full 12 hours, and sometimes I jump around and you get a lot of us.
Also, if your baby goes into the NICU you’ll have a neonatal nurse to consider (you can see how this can be a bit of an issue).
Also, remember that after you have your baby, that unit (called mother/baby, couplet care, or postpartum) is often staffed with different nurses.
And, if you’re wondering the difference between labor and couplet care, I go over ALL of that in this course.
When to Give Your Labor and Delivery Nurse Her Gift?
It depends on how you plan to give it?
Food is best when fresh and nurses can enjoy it as they take care of you during your time together.
But if it’s a card or something specific to that nurse it might be nice to give it at the end of your time together.
While your OB nurse normally has 8-12 hour shifts, they may switch patients at any time, so that is something to be aware of.
Perhaps you are only bringing a gift for the nurse who helps deliver you. In that case I’d give it after you are done with breastfeeding/skin to skin.
Also, if you didn’t bring something to the hospital, but want to do something after. Don’t feel like you can’t bring something by the hospital afterwards. Even if it is just a thoughtful card I bet they would love to get it.
We really are in it for you, and when you have a great experience it’s extremely gratifying to hear.
I hope you enjoyed this post that talked about a gift basket for your L&D nurse. Of course, their favorite is a thank you note to labor and delivery nurses. I hope you figured out how many nurse gifts you may need, and have some ideas for labor and delivery thank you tags. And of course, this post answers the age-old question as to why are labor and delivery nurses mean (answer, we’re holding our bladder).
So, that’s that. A few final thoughts:
- Never feel bad you don’t have a gift.
- You can always bring something later (and if you get caught-up in new-mommy-hood, that’s fine too).
- NEVER forget to say thank you. You may never know what she did that saved you. You never know the meals she missed, or the pee she held. We do it because we love it — and we enjoy a paycheck. A loving thank you goes a long way. 🙂 A heartfelt thank you is always a special time for your delivery staff.
Ok, now that you have the gift ideas taken care of — let’s get you PREPARED for that big day!!!! Remember, this class has many perks:
- It can be done in just a few hours
- Comes at 3 price points to fit your budget
- Is created by one of the top labor nurses in prenatal education — and will keep you both engaged!
Or, if you’re not quite ready for the full class, check out my free prenatal class — It’s your first step towards being your own birth boss.