A lot of patients want to pre-plan gifts for labor and delivery nurses. This post, from an L&D nurse, and will tell what is expected.
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 healthcare 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 staff is actually not legal — at least not for the nurses to accept (with some exceptions).
So, how do I know all of this? Hi, I’m Hilary — I’m an L&D nurse and have been since 2001. 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. 🙂
Related post: Bad things about being a nurse
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, 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 would likely 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. Asian families will prepare envelopes of thanks in advance for those who participate in the bringing into the world the new baby. By not taking the envelope it is VERY Rude. So, as long as the envelope had less than $5 we were able to keep it.
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).
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 is 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 are separate areas, so sometimes two trays is extra nice.
- 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. 🙂
- Lotion — our hands get SUPER dry as we wash when we’re in the room or santize, each and every time we’re in your room.
- A Card — a gift certainly doesn’t need to be big to be meaningful. I once 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.
**Especially if you had a scary delivery we LOVE to know how things are going. 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**
All of these can be brought when you deliver, or afterward. We have 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 you room and later feel awkward about asking about it).
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. 🙂
If you liked this post, be sure to grab my free hospital packing list – and check out my other delivery posts below that: